10 unusual castles to visit

Ghosts, television dramas, improbable works of architecture and miraculous survival stories play their part in the history of some of the more unusual castles you can find across Wales today. Here are a few to look out for on your next holiday.

  • Winston Castle ruins
    Winston Castle, Pembrokeshire

    Thought to have been named after the 13th century Flemish Knight Wizo, who designed it, Wiston is one of the finest examples of an 11th century motte and bailey you’ll see. It was eventually abandoned more than 700 years ago – stomp up its steps to discover some amazing Norman stonework.

  • Castell y Bere ruins in the Snowdonia Mountains
    Castell y Bere, Snowdonia

    The design of this castle for Prince Llywelyn ab Iorwerth – more succinctly known as Llywelyn the Great – makes for some striking remains within this rocky ruin. A courtyard and two gatetowers, including floor tiles and other decorative elements, stand as stone relics from its defensive prime before it was razed in the 13th century.

  • St Quentins Castle and gatehouse in Llanblethian near Cowbridge, Vale of Glamorgan
    St Quentins, Glamorgan Heritage Coast

    Before his death at the 1314 Battle of Bannockburn, Gilbert de Clare designed a castle he never got to complete. Every inch of the crumbled, jagged fortress grabs the imagination with its enormous twin-towered gatehouse, designed to give extra defence on the weaker side of the four surrounding slopes.

  • Castell Coch gatehouse and drawbridge, built on behalf of the Marquess of Bute in the 19th century.
    Castell Coch, Cardiff by Paula J James

    This is a castle on top of a castle. It was originally a chieftain’s fortress in the 13th century, but was resurrected as a gothic fortress several centuries later. It is now notable for its extraordinary complex of lavish chambers, making it a repeated favourite with film and television crews.

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    White Castle, Monmouthshire

    White Castle gatehouse on the White Castle Circular path, Monmouthshire
    White Castle, Wye Valley & Vale of Usk

    Named after its original walls, this is one of three castles in the Monnow Valley, which was an important trade route during the 13th century. Sneak inside the inner ring of the partial ruins, peer at the enclaves of the defences and weigh up its strategic importance during medieval times.

  • View of Dolwyddelan Castle and hilltop
    Dolwyddelan Castle, Snowdonia

    Take a careful look from the captivating ruins of Dolwyddelan and you’ll be able to see a small mound in the valley where an earlier castle – Tomen Castell – stood. This is battle territory, but the fortress originally designed by the Prince of Gwynedd stands as a stone wall classic.

  • Beaumaris Castle
    Beaumaris Castle, Anglesey

    In a land full of castles notable for their decayed, imperfect beauty, Beaumaris – Edward I’s final 13th century design – is widely considered the most technically accomplished castle in Britain. Overhead photos always make it look like a study in symmetry, so get up close and admire the King’s grandiose vision.

  • Kidwelly Castle
    Kidwelly Castle, Carmarthenshire

    Saunter over a wooden footbridge to visit this idyllically-placed Norman stronghold which provided the opening backdrop for the film, Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Concentrically designed during Norman times and later modified by the Duke of Lancaster, its great gatehouse is magnificent. The town nearby dates from the early 11th century.

  • Skenfrith Castle on the banks of the River Monnow
    Skenfrith Castle, Wye Valley

    Time travel fans need to visit Skenfrith – the Norman castle once played host to an episode of Doctor Who. See why this circular keep, constructed in the Monnow Valley as one of three neighbouring castles resulting from the Norman conquest of South Wales, is a repeated favourite of television crews.

  • The twin towered West Gatehouse of Rhuddlan Castle, flying the Welsh flag
    Rhuddlan Castle, Rhyl and Prestatyn by Marcher57

    Although the defensive roots of the stomping grounds at Rhuddlan lie in the 11th century, the mighty red brick walls of this diamond-shaped castle were originally completed by Edward I in 1277. Full of craggy character and cornered by gatehouses, it boasts beautiful views of the River Clwyd.

More heritage attractions in Wales