Cilgerran Castle was the Earl of Pembroke’s most northerly castle overlooking the River Teifi and only a few miles upstream from Cardigan Castle. Like much of his lands, Marshal took possession of the castle when he added Earl of Pembroke to his titles in 1199. It wasn’t until 1204 following a falling out with King John, however, that he was able to attend to his lands in west Wales including Cilgerran. It is said that the Marshal’s fearsome reputation preceded him and when he arrived outside the gates of Cilgerran’s then wooden construction, the handful of Lord Rhys’ men inside surrendered without a fight. Marshal allowed the men to go free after leaving their weapons behind.
Marshal then set about fortifying the site although work was disrupted in 1215 when Llewellyn re-captured the castle. It wasn’t until 1223 when Marshal’s son, William the Younger really began work on the castle building an ‘ornate castle of mortar and stone’ (Brut y Tywysogion) based, in part, on his father’s magnificent designs at Pembroke. Two magnificent drum towers dominate the site leaving modern day visitors of no doubt of the strategic importance of Cilgerran’s position over the neighbouring countryside and river. After William’s death in 1231, the work was continued by his brothers – Richard, Gilbert, Walter and Anselm until 1245 when the line died out. Although it passed to Marshal’s daughter Eva, when her son George died in 1272, Cilgerran’s ownership reverted to the crown.