Carmarthen Castle

Carmarthen Castle: The Archaeology of Government

Neil Ludlow
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: 1
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt9qhc80
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  • Book Info
    Carmarthen Castle
    Book Description:

    One of Wales’s most important but least-known castles is put back at the heart of the history of medieval Wales.

    eISBN: 978-1-78316-013-6
    Subjects: Architecture and Architectural History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. FOREWORD
    (pp. vii-viii)
    EIFION BOWEN

    OVER THE last forty years Carmarthen has become familiar with visitors arriving to see the castle, mistakenly thinking they are at Caernarfon (120 miles to the north). Perhaps more surprising was the number of local people who, in response to a County Council public consultation, said, ‘I didn’t know Carmarthen had a castle,’ Only glimpses of the castle were possible through the surrounding buildings and, even then, only ivy-clad remains could be seen. In addition, rarely did Carmarthen appear in books on the castles of Wales. It seemed to have vanished, and been forgotten.

    Changes began in the early 1970s...

  4. FOREWORD
    (pp. ix-x)
    KENNETH MURPHY

    FROM ITS foundation in 1975 until 1994, Dyfed Archaeological Trust was based in Carmarthen – Wales’s oldest town and the focus of political and economic life in south-west Wales for two thousand years. One of the Trust’s early priorities was to obtain a clearer picture of the town’s archaeological resource, resulting in the 1980 publication of a pioneering survey by the late Terry James. At the same time, Heather James of the Trust began large-scale excavations within Roman Carmarthen. The Trust’s commitment to the town continued with an equally ambitious excavation by Terry James on the site of the medieval Franciscan...

  5. LIST OF FIGURES
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  6. LIST OF TABLES
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  7. LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
    (pp. xix-xx)
  8. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
    (pp. xxi-xxii)
  9. CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION: ‘a certain good donjon’
    (pp. 1-14)

    THE REMAINS OF Carmarthen Castle, though impressive, are of modest extent. They do not immediately announce its former importance. Yet Carmarthen was not only one of the principal castles of medieval Wales, but also among the largest. A springboard for the Anglo-Norman annexation of south-west Wales, Carmarthen Castle became the centre of Crown authority in the region and was one of a very small number of royal castles in an area predominantly given over to Marcher lordships. Its status as Crown holding and centre of government, formalised in the late thirteenth century and paralleled in the north at Caernarfon Castle,...

  10. CHAPTER TWO CARMARTHEN CASTLE AND ITS PLACE IN MEDIEVAL WALES
    (pp. 15-64)

    CARMARTHEN CASTLE was a deliberate foundation of King Henry I, as a centre from which an Anglo-Norman territory could be carved and delineated, then defended and governed. It was the centre of royal government in south-west Wales, from which the ambitions of the native Welsh princes and the neighbouring marcher lords could be monitored and checked. It therefore fulfilled a number of different functions. It was primarily a centre of administration. It was the residence of Crown officials and their households. It was the base for Anglo-Norman military interventions in the region. It was the centre of a manor and,...

  11. CHAPTER THREE THE PHYSICAL REMAINS
    (pp. 65-172)

    THIS CHAPTER describes the results from the 1993–2006 projects, and all known previous archaeological work. Recent work has inevitably been led by the enhancement programme, although opportunities have arisen for targeted archaeological investigation, including controlled excavation in the bailey in 1980, the evaluations within the shell-keep in 1997– 8, and the excavations outside the gatehouse in 2003. However, the work has, by default, focused on the west and south sides of the former inner ward, where the standing remains are concentrated, and has been dominated by the recording of the surviving fabric. Intrusive work has been more limited, and...

  12. CHAPTER FOUR RECONSTRUCTING THE CASTLE
    (pp. 173-224)

    RECONSTRUCTING THE medieval castle is not straightforward. It does not occupy a greenfield site, but instead has been extensively damaged and heavily remodelled by later activity. Little standing fabric survives and excavation has been limited. This chapter discusses the archaeological evidence alongside the source material in an attempt to produce a comprehensive reconstruction of the castle. It also examines its changes through time, and the influences on its development that arose from its various roles, military and civil.

    Contemporary documentation includes building accounts (reproduced in the Appendix). In general, these relate to those periods when it was under royal control,...

  13. CHAPTER FIVE DIVISION, DEMOLITION AND DEVELOPMENT: THE POST-MEDIEVAL CASTLE
    (pp. 225-274)

    THE POST-MEDIEVAL history of the site begins with sixteenth-century decline, leading to its near-total abandonment as a residence and judicial centre, probably before the century was out, and its disposal by the Crown. This was followed by a period of military reuse during the Civil War and Commonwealth and, it is suggested, its deliberate slighting around the late 1650s. However, prisoners were kept at the castle throughout this period, after which its remains continued to be used as a gaol. The abandoned outer ward meanwhile was given over to domestic development. Some new gaol buildings are recorded in the 1770s,...

  14. CHAPTER SIX POTTERY AND OTHER FINDS
    (pp. 275-338)

    ALTHOUGH BELOW-GROUND investigation has been limited, it has produced a large assemblage of artefacts. This chapter is confined to those that were recovered from the five structured investigations, i.e. to securely stratified material that has been subject to specialist analysis. It is arranged according to material category, and each category is subdivided by area (and author) – namely the shell-keep, the gatehouse passage, the South-west Tower, the Square Tower cellar, and the west ditch. Material from other areas was in the main scanty, and largely confined to the overburden.

    The evidence from the finds must be assessed with caution. The majority...

  15. CHAPTER SEVEN EPILOGUE: THE CASTLE REDISCOVERED
    (pp. 339-350)

    FOR OVER 300 years, the remains of Carmarthen Castle were largely hidden from view. Beginning in the early 1970s, they have been re-exposed and once more dominate the town and surrounding country. The castle’s striking visual presence can again be appreciated, particularly from the main, southern approaches, and is complemented by County Hall itself symbolic of the castle’s endurance as a seat of local government.¹

    Much has been discovered during the recent work, chiefly from study of the castle’s standing remains and the source material relating to its development. And the limited below-ground archaeological interventions yielded a high return of...

  16. APPENDIX: DOCUMENTED DEVELOPMENT
    (pp. 351-370)
  17. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 371-388)
  18. INDEX
    (pp. 389-410)
  19. Back Matter
    (pp. 411-411)