Carew Castle

In a beautiful waterside location, the imposing Carew Castle has a powerful presence. Founded around 1100 and built from local limestone, it was abandoned in the 1680s and is now used as a roost by rare greater horseshoe bats. The village of Carew has a beautiful Celtic stone cross and the only restored tidal mill in Wales.

Carreg Cennen Castle

There’s something truly poetic about the silhouette of the hilltop ruin of Carreg Cennen Castle, surrounded by Carmarthenshire farmland. In the 1790s, JMW Turner drew and painted it several times in sketchbooks which are now held at Tate Britain. As a medieval defence, it was brilliantly sited, on top of a steep cliff with 360-degree views.

Exterior of Carreg Cennan Castle.
Carreg Cennen Castle, Carmarthenshire, West Wales

Laugharne Castle

The restless spirit of Dylan Thomas lives on in the village where the ruins of the medieval Laugharne Castle stand close to the shining estuary of the River Tâf. To him, its moody stones were 'brown as owls'. They’re now the walls of a garden. A short stroll from here is the Boathouse which was the great poet’s home.

Laugharne Castle, Carmarthenshire
Laugharne Castle, Carmarthenshire, West Wales

Llanthony Priory

Rounded hills dusted with woodlands, bracken and grass make the perfect backdrop to the time-worn stones of the 12th century Augustinian Llanthony Priory. JMW Turner sketched it in graphite and watercolour during his tour of Wales in 1794. Close to the English border in the Black Mountains, this is a fabulous area for walking and horse riding.  

Remains of Nave and Transepts from the Cloister with slype passage.
Llananthony Priory, Wye Valley

Neath Abbey and Gatehouse

Neath Abbey was founded by Cistercian monks in 1130 and grew to become one of the largest monasteries in Wales. Parts of it were used long after the dissolution of the monasteries in the reign of Henry VIII, which spelt doom for grand ecclesiastical buildings all over Wales. But by the late 1700s, only roofless walls remained.

The length of the church from the Monks' Choir.
Aerial view of Neath Abbey.
Neath Abbey, West Wales

Ogmore Castle

An irresistible chain of well-worn stepping stones leads you from the village of Ogmore across the shallow River Ewenny to the remains of the 12th century Ogmore Castle. As the veteran travel writer Jan Morris noted, you have to feel for the Norman soldiers stationed here, who must often have slipped (or been pushed) into the river after an evening out. 

Family walking across stepping stones over Ogmore River
Ogmore Castle, Vale of Glamorgan, South Wales

Oystermouth Castle

Oystermouth Castle, a rather pretty little Norman castle floats above the seaside town of Mumbles, with wonderful views out to sea. It once contained an impressive banqueting hall and staterooms. A glass walkway allows you to explore. In spring and summer, locals picnic in its grassy parkland, the setting for medieval fun days and other events.

Raglan Castle

Raglan Castle was built in the 1430s for William Herbert, the first Earl of Pembroke, as a grand home rather than a military defence. Herbert insisted it had fashionable domestic features such as huge windows and carved timber panels. Nonetheless, from the outside, it does a good impression of an impregnable medieval fortress.

Tintern Abbey

Captured by JMW Turner, William Wordsworth and countless other artists, writers and poets, Tintern Abbey is the most famous of Wales’ beautiful medieval ruins. Its setting in the steep-sided Wye Valley is simply ravishing, and its soaring Gothic arches are close enough to the road, river and footpaths to be viewed from many different angles.

View of the exterior of Tintern Abbey with grass in the foreground and blue skies above
Image of Raglan Castle from above, with two people walking through the ruins
Tintern Abbey and Raglan Castle, Wye Valley

Valle Crucis Abbey

Founded three decades earlier than Tintern in 1101, Valle Crucis, a Cistercian abbey near Llangollen was relatively modest, but there’s still grandeur in its Gothic arches and beauty in its lush, pastoral setting. When JMW Turner painted it, he shifted the perspective to include the hilltop fort of Dinas Brân in the same frame.

 The east end of the Abbey church reflected in the fish pond.
General view of the east range across the cloister.
Valle Crucis Abbey, near Llangollen, North Wales

Castell y Bere

One of the ultimate romantic Welsh ruins must be Castell y Bere. Deep in a remote valley in the hills of southern Snowdonia, the castle remains are lonely and quiet. This native Welsh castle was probably built by Prince Llywelyn ab Iorwerth ('the Great') around 1220 to guard his cattle and trading routes. Edward I captured it in 1283, destroying and abandoning the castle by 1294. The views are stunning - taking in the pastures of the Dysynni Valley down towards the coast at Tywyn in one direction, and Cader Idris looming above in the other.

The courtyard looking north from the middle tower, Castell y Bere.
Castell y Bere

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