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Newcastle Emlyn Town Council crest

Newcastle Emlyn Town Council


The 'New Castle' which has given the town its name, had been built on the banks of the River Teifi by the 1250s by Mareudydd ap Rhys, a prince of Deheubarth. Established as a timber and earth fort in the middle of the 13th century and developed into a coherent stone castle certainly by 1287 and leftin ruins by the civil war of the 1640's, the 'new castle' of Emlyn had an eventful history.
History suggests King Henry III ordered the existing territory of the 'cantref' of Emlyn be divided and the lands east of the River Cych be given to Mareudydd-Rhys Gryg.

Newcastle Emlyn castle ruins against a blue sky.

The castle was originally Mareudydd's fort probably to defend his new acquisitions. 

The castle was captured by the English Crown in 1287-88 and within a few years an English borough town was establishedhere, in the heartof Welsh Wales.

In 1403, Newcastle Emlyn was attacked by the fources of Owain Glyndŵr, at the height of his war of independence. It is said that Glyndŵr and his army crossed the Teifi down stream near Cenarth and then followed the valley to lay siege to the Norman castle here.

The castle's period of freatest development was from 1300 to 1350 under the King Edward and the Black Prince when it achieved its fullestexpression,supporting a thriving community with hall, chapel and many domesticb uildings and with a little towre to view and see the cuntre' whichin those far off days was 'wel wooded with certain red dere therin' (survey of 1532).

From the early 16th centruy, the lordship reverted back to the Crown and was under the control of agents appointed by the King.They were known as 'fermours' holding land by lease. The castle by this time was more residence than a fortified building and the 'fermours' farmed the lordship. 

The castle under the Earl of Carberry was beseiged by Cromwells forces in 1644.

Looking towards the castle from the current car parkyou see the stone remains of the original gatehouse and south tower, built probablyin the early 14th century and forming the west flank of the wedge-shaped inner ward. As you approach the gatehouse you will pass the ravelin, a defended gun emplacement in the form of a steep earthwork built in the mid 17th century.

The twin towers of the gate house would have originally contained important facilities for the castle in its hayday including porter's lodge and beneath it a prison or dungeon. The inner ward contained notably a hall and a chapel.
Newcastle Emlyn has an old legend of a 'gwiber' or dragon terrorising the town and castle. The beast was eventually killed and fell into a deep pool in the River known as Pwll Dafi William. Some say that this legend is an echoof Glyndŵr's attack on the town for his personal creast was a golden dragon.

More information about Newcastle Emlyn castle can be found at


According to local legend, Newcastle Emlyn saw the last appearance of a dragon in Wales. According to the tale, a winged creature known as a wyvern flew over the town during a fair. It landed in the castle wall and promply fell asleep. What should townsfolk do? A clever soldier lay a shawl on the river and hid nearby. When the dragon awoke it was attracted by the shawl and flew down to the river to snatch it. The soldier leapt out and speared the dragon, and the dragon's blood poisoned the river killing all the fish.


  • 1240     Maredudd ap Rhys Gryg built a timber, earth   construction. Shortly after it was converted to stone and was the first stone castle to be built by a Welshman.
  • 1287   The Castle has an exciting history, it has witnessed an unsuccessful rebellion against Edward I by Rhys ap Maredudd, occupation by Roger Mortimer, which was then overturned by Rhys’ men. They were then also forced to submit after a barricade of 23 days, when the justice of the South Wales, Robert Tiptoft was victorious.
  • 1294/5 The castle was abandoned during the time of the revolt of Madoc ap Llewelyn when Ceredigion rebels raided Pembrokeshire and beset Aberystwyth. However David ap Moris and his son David Fychan held the castle until the King arrived. David Fychan was made Bailiff of Emlyn as recognition for his loyalty to the King.
  • 1300   The treasurer of South Wales was to see that the castle was included in the repair provisioning of castles of West Wales as ordered by Edward I.
  • 1312   Edward II built a new hall, costing £50.
  • 1343   Serious defects to the roof and construction of the castle were recorded. At this time Edward the Black Prince, son of Edward III was bestowed the Principality of Wales.
  • 1347/48 Richard de la Bere, (the Prince's Chmaberlain) managed a rebuilding project, and as a reward for his service was permitted the castle rent free, by the Prince.
  • 1382    The castle was granted outright to Simon Burley, therefore no longer belonging to royalty. 
  • 1403    Owain Glyndwr under the Red Dragon Banner captured the castle, which was then swiftly retaken by Sir Thomas Carew. Then in Mid 15th century, Gruffydd ap Nicholas helped by the Earl of Pembrokeshire, returned to 'Welsh Lord Ownership'.
  • 1462    Thomas ap Gruffydd succeeded to the ownership of the castle after his father's death.
  • 1485    Sir Rhys ap Thomas repaired and reconstructed the castle as a a place of residence.
  • 1521    Castle and estate passed to Sir Rhys' grandson, Sir Rhys ap Gruffydd.
  • 1530    Sir Rhys ap Gruffydd tried and found guilty of plotting a rebellion and was executed. This brought to an end the period of the new Welsh lords. All his lands were confiscated, including Emlyn. The lordship reverted back to the crown and remained so for some 100 years or so.
  • 1532     In 1532 a detailed survey reveals the inner ward contained a hall and chapel as well as other more domestic buildings.
  • 1552     A chapel existed outside the castle walls at this time.
  • 1644     The castle was a Royalist strong hold in the English Civil war, though taken three times by siege and assault. One of the last castles to hold out for Charles I, it was taken by the Parliamentarians,  then retaken by the Royalists in 1645. After more fighting and holding parliamentary forces at bay for a fortnight it was blown up with gunpowder in 1648 when regained by Cromwell's men. Much of the stone work was used by townfolk to build their houses).
  • 1785     The chapel was rebuilt, known locally as 'Capel Bach y Drindod' (little Chapel of the Trinity)
  • 1830     In the parish of Cenarth, the castle and chapel were shown on a print.
  • 1843     The parish of Newcastle Emlyn was formed and a church constructed. Before demolition, the chapel is used as a schoolroom. The site is later turned into gardens.
  • 1850     By the mid 19th century, the castle was in the hands of Lord Cawdor.
  • 1978/82  Human remains were revealed in 1982 during the consolidation of the masonry of  the gatehouse and construction of a car park by Carmarthenshire District Council.
  • 1993     Further work to the car park revealed the south wall of a chapel and five burials.