The four (plus 2) go mad in… Caerffili!

Earlier this year, three writing chums and I went for a writing retreat in Lyme Regis… not only was it very productive, and very interesting, and not only did we get to know the town well, we also got to know each other well! In fact a small booklet was produced recording some of the inspirational and hilarious events which occurred.

Yesterday, the Lyme Four as we’re now known, we went to Caerffili (Caerphilly) in south Wales in search of dragons and writing inspiration. there were the four of us plus two sons and we set off in glorious sunshine, arrived in glorious sunshine, spent a day in glorious sunshine, and returned home to a glorious sunset. I’d never been to the small south Wales town before and we didn’t really explore that yesterday, spending all our time in the huge castle.

There may have always been a settlement on this spot but the Romans were the first to establish a more substantial place with a fort which was constructed in the AD 70’s. The town gets its name from Ffili, the son of St Cenydd. When the Normans conquered these islands after the battle of 1066, they imposed their rule across the country by building castles. Whatever the brutal reason for the castle they built in Caerffili, this structure is a most imposing place, full of historical importance, interest, and intrigue.

We didn’t go into the town, that’s an adventure for another day, but we wandered round looking at the massive fortifications which although ruined in parts are still impressive. It was built by the Norman lord, Gilbert de Clare, its construction starting in in 1268 once he had occupied – conquered the area. It’s an absolute wonder that the castle was built in three years, and as we wandered around we mused on the hundreds and probably thousands of ordinary people who must have been drafted in to labour on it. There would have been hundreds of skilled tradesmen, but so many more poor people – including children who did all the heavy, difficult and dangerous work. Many lives must have been lost, many people must have been injured as it was built. Incredibly it was built in three years – but for a long time after there was conflict between the de Clares and their neighbours, the Welsh and their rulers whose land had been stolen. It’s a most magnificence castle, and very elaborate with a series of lines of defence, moats, lakes, a massive gatehouse, what’s known as  concentric castle defences, as well as all the usual defence features of a medieval castle.

It’s not possible to see everything during one visit, so a return is definitely likely. We were so lucky with the weather, it guaranteed that almost every photo was a good one!

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