Llansteffan Castle at dusk from the beach

Last month, I visited Llansteffan Castle, Carmarthenshire at dusk. This is a special place, situated on a high ridge dominating the Tywi estuary and enjoying views inland towards Carmarthen and out to sea to Worm’s Head on the horizon. The bats came out and flew about me as I navigated the ruins and I enjoyed phenomenal views; I watched trains navigate the coastal line from Kidwelly to Carmarthen via Ferryside and then walked back via the beach to my car.

Cadw sign
Cadw sign

This is a monument with many phases of use:

  • a 6th-century BC promontary fort
  • an early 12th-century earth and timber ringwork castle, held by the Norman Marmion family, although it later passed to the de Camvilles.
  • a late 12th-century stone castle including a square gate-tower
  • in the early 13th century, the upper ward was afforded with a heightened curtain wall and a round tower, while a lower ward was added
  • two D-shaped towers were added to the outer ward in the late 13th century, and possible slightly later still, an impressive gatehouse was added.
  • IMG_9045
    Artist’s reconstruction of the late 13th-century phase, before the demolition of the wall dividing the inner and outer wards

    at some later date, the division between the wards was broken with the demolition of the dividing wall

  • a new smaller gatehouse was constructed adjacent to it in the 16th century, possibly when the castle was held by Jasper Tewdwr
  • an agricultural building still used in the 19th century sits against the northern wall of the castle

Sadly, there were no archaeodeath dimensions, but this is a truly favourite place of mine and deserves a blog entry for that reason alone.


View from gatehouse to the late 12th-century square gatehouse guarding the original inner ward


View from gatehouse over the early 13th-century north tower and eastern bastion with the Tywi estuary and Ferryside beyond
Fireplace within the late 13th-centuy gatehouse.


Portcullis slot and murder holes in gatehouse


Artist’s reconstruction from the Cadw heritage board showing how the late 13th-century gatehouse may have appeared
View of the late 13th-century gatehouse from the north (external). The original entrance was later blocked in, possibly in the early 16th century when the new, far more modest gatehouse to the east was constructed and thus enabling the original building to become more comfortable accommodation



The North Tower from inside the lower ward




View over the early 13th-century round tower situated on the inner ward’s curtain wall looking down to the late 13th-century gatehouse on the lower ward’s northern (lower) side


The early 16th-century gatehouse


The early 13th century North Tower, early 16th-century gatehouse, and (to right) part of the late 13th-century gatehouse



View from the eastern bastion over the Tywi estuary


View over the Tywi estuary to the railway line between Kidwelly and Carmarthen



Worm’s Head from Llansteffan Castle