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!
Big things are happening at Caerphilly Castle. We are embarking on a major theatre production with Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru, bringing Macbeth to the largest castle in Wales. Work started on the 23 of January, and will continue until the 23 of February. Large theatre sets are being built in the Inner East Gatehouse and in the Great Hall. Some parts of the castle are being heavily transformed. Access might be restricted in some parts, but we are making ever effort to re-open rooms once sets have been built.
More information about the show, along with tickets, available from Chapter.
Please note that Caerphilly Castle will close at 3pm on the 16 and 18 of Feb, due to matinee performances of Macbeth.
Please note that the Cadw Dragon will be temporarily absent from Caerphilly Castle for six weeks from 16th February 2017.
During this period, the Dragon will undergo its annual health check and indulge in some much-needed ‘me-time’ ahead of the busy spring season.
The Dragon will return to Caerphilly Castle on 2nd April 2017 but make sure you keep your eyes peeled during its absence – it could pop up anywhere…