HIDDEN away from the bustle of the A40 is the remains of Llandovery Castle.

Llandovery Castle overlooks the village and is situated on the hill just off the A40 with a playground nearby and overlooking the River Bran.

The castle’s ruined tower and stainless steel statue acts as a reminder of some of the history of the village over the past few centuries.

South Wales Guardian: Llandovery CastleLlandovery Castle

The first castle in Llandovery was a motte and bailey castle which was built around 1116 by Norman knight Richard FitzPons after he was given the lordship of Cantref Bychan. He was one of the barons sent to conquer Welsh territory, which he was successful in assisting Bernard de Neufmarche in gaining the Brecon lordship at the end of the 11th century.

The castle was built by sculpting the natural hill to create a small bailey and stone fortification.

FitzPons put the castle in the hands of a Welsh constable who fiercely defended it from Welsh attacks by the princes of Deheubarth before it was passed to Walter Clifford.

The castle was taken from Clifford by Rhys ap Gruffydd, the ruler of Deheubarth in 1158 and over the years would be contested between the English and Welsh as well as Lord Rhys’ four sons.


In 1277, King Edward I was given the castle after it was taken by John Giffard on his behalf. The king urged Giffard to strengthen the defences to ensure the castle remained safe from Welsh attacks.

Giffard then surrounded the stone keep with a curtain wall and he built the D-shape tower that you can still see today.

In 1282, Llywelyn the Last revolted and briefly took the castle. He only held the castle for a few months but was able to carry out more strengthening works on the castle walls and then in 1287, Rhys ap Maredudd took the castle, however, for the most part, the castle was held by the English monarch.

In 1299, the castle was given to the Audley family from Helleigh but in the 14th century, it was passed to the Touchet family.

South Wales Guardian: Owain Glyndwr by Ed FisherOwain Glyndwr by Ed Fisher

The monarchs were able to keep hold of the castle during the Owain Glyndwr uprising and in 1401, Llewelyn ap Gruffudd Fychan, a sympathizer of Glyndwr was executed at Llandovery Castle with King Henry IV present.

He was found guilty of deliberately misleading the king’s troops and refusing to reveal where Glyndwr was.

For his execution, he was dragged to the gallows at the front of the castle, the 12th century fortification, and disemboweled for everyone to see before being dismembered.

His salted, or pickled, body parts were then sent to be exhibited in other Welsh towns and his head, apparently, spiked at the Tower of London.

On July 3, 1403, Llandovery Castle was put under siege by Glyndwr’s men. It was left in a partial ruin from then on and was never rebuilt. It is believed the castle was burned during the 1532 rebellion of Hywel ap Rhys.

South Wales Guardian: Llewellyn ap Gruffudd Fychan statue at Llandovery CastleLlewellyn ap Gruffudd Fychan statue at Llandovery Castle

Currently, the surviving parts of the castle are the impressive D-shaped tower, which contains the remains of a garderobe on the first floor. There are also ruins of the twin-towered gatehouse and the foundations of several other structures in the castle bailey which could have been auxiliary buildings like a kitchen range.

The surviving castle walls are believed to date back to Llywelyn the Last’s work in the late 13th century.

An interesting feature of the castle is the stainless steel statue of Llewelyn ap Gruffudd Fychan on the castle motte to honour the man who gave his life to protect Owain Glyndwr during the start of the Glyndwr uprising.