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* — Adventure awaits at Caerphilly Castle, with Gilbert’s Maze and the Dragons’ Lair now open!
Wales’s largest fortress has become even bigger and better with the installation of two new family attractions.
The epic transformation celebrates 750 years of the medieval stronghold, providing castle explorers with even more unmissable on-site experiences to say a big “diolch” for their continued love and support for the site.
It’s all part of Cadw’s Castles Alive! campaign and a £9.5m Welsh Government investment to enhance visitor experience at Wales’s captivating sites over the next three years.
To find out more about Gilbert’s Maze, the Dragons’ Lair and other on-site activities, check out our Castles Alive! webpage.