Like the famous cheese, the castle has long been synonymous with Caerphilly. It dominates. Hogs the limelight. Think slumbering giant awaiting a call to arms. It’s also a great backdrop for TV and film. It secured a starring role recently in the popular BBC TV series Merlin.
This stone behemoth, surrounded by a series of moats and watery islands was the brainchild of Gilbert ‘the Red’ de Clare, a redheaded nobleman of Norman descent. He also built the original Castell Coch, ‘Red Castle’, located the other side of Caerphilly mountain.
Gilbert de Clare and Llywelyn ap Gruffydd were contemporaries at war and early attempts by Gilbert to build a castle were thwarted by the Welsh prince. Gilbert eventually won through and built a mammoth stronghold using the concentric ‘walls within walls’ system of defence. He also made sure there were large and comfortable rooms to live in.
However, once the threat posed by Llywelyn was quelled by Edward I, the raison d’etre for this massive fortress changed. The castle’s condition worsened until late in the 19th century when the third marquess of Bute began preservation work. We have a lot to thank the Butes for in South Wales!
***NEWSFLASH*** — Exciting summer plans for Wales’s biggest castle
Caerphilly Castle could soon be getting a major makeover as part of Cadw’s Castles Alive! campaign, if planning permission is granted.
Plans include the installation of an interactive Maze, a mystical Dragons’ Lair with audio-visual effects and regular live firings of four medieval Siege Engines!
The proposed transformation will celebrate 750 years of the mighty medieval fortress, providing castle explorers with even more unmissable on-site experiences in a way of thanks for their continued love and support for the site.
Plus, the immediate £570k plans for Caerphilly precede a further £9.5m Welsh Government investment to enhance visitor experience at Wales’s captivating sites over the next three years.
Check out our Castles Alive! webpage for campaign details, more information and live updates.
Please note that the Baby Dragons will be absent from Caerphilly Castle from 09 February.
The little monsters have flown off to attend finishing school in a deep, dark cave somewhere far, far away, where they’ll polish their scales and perfect their thunderous roars — just in time for the busy spring/summer season at Caerphilly Castle.
Watch this space for more information on their homecoming. Who knows what mischief they’ll return with… And when?