The Welsh Castle Projects First 200 Castles
So, this weekend marks the end of our first year of the Welsh Castle Project, Where Indigo and I are seeing how many Castles in Wales there are, it’s been a year already!
We’ve seen so much, learned a lot, made mistakes, had great adventures, a few misadventures, a few breakdowns, a few flat tyres, loads of picnics, driven thousands of miles zig-zagging around Wales, planned routes, drawn maps, organised, been disorganised, climbed mountains, gone the wrong way, started a blog, written articles, taken thousands of pictures, sweated, camped, stayed in hotels, walked, got muddy, fallen over, got scratches and scuffs, been rained on and sunburned and altogether visited a total of 200 castles in Wales in one year!
This weekend was due to be our record-breaking weekend, we applied to the Guinness Book of World Records, we got our record accepted, but unfortunately the rules are too strict for us to do the challenge.
Basically, because it is a endurance/marathon record (most castles visited in 24hours) they wont allow children to take part, so Indigo would be excluded which kind of defeats the whole point, we wanted to be record breakers together!
They also have some silly rules about not allowed to use a personal vehicle for race/endurance records as people may speed on public roads. I understand the safety precaution but without a vehicle the challenge is impossible, there aren’t enough castles within walking distance of one another to see 20+ in 24hours (not even in Wales).
Lastly the Guinness World Records criteria for what constitutes a castle is very strict, it has to be a late medieval castle with remaining stone-works, this is a helpful qualifier if the other two restrictions weren’t in place but without a vehicle it’s impossible to visit more than 4-5 stone castles in a day, and I’m not doing it without Indigo!
Maybe we’ll attempt the record at the end of the project when Indi is older, but for now we’ll have to be happy with our unofficial record of 16 castles visited in one day, and now 200 castles in Wales visited in one year.
Scratch that, since we had to visit 23 this weekend to make it to 200 in our first year we had to cram in 21 small ones in one day, we did it, but it was hard and we will not be attempting to beat that personal record, we’ll go back to visiting 2-3 castles a day to keep it fun rather than a stressful dramatic chore (we had another flat tyre yesterday too, no spare, so were slowed down for nearly 4hours so it’s really amazing we managed to se 21 castles in a day! Beat that! If GWR change their rules then we might try another marathon visit but we’re happy to let our record rest at 21.
I was documenting the castle project informally on Instagram (@WelshCastleProject) just to save my notes and pictures somewhere and to share what we were up to after several years off of social media.
A friend (Sarah Tamsin) encouraged me to start this blog and was really helpful in getting me all set up, I didn’t realise quite how much work was involved in blogging, formatting pictures is an absolute nightmare! But I’m glad I’m documenting our adventures even if the blog production is much slower than I anticipated and I’m well behind schedule!
It’s been a learning curve but a fun and interesting experience.
I am getting better at the posts and Search Engine Optimisation etc. I still don’t have any audience but I’m happy with what I’m producing so far.
The end goal is that every castle will have something written about it on our blog, ideally a full fact-file for each and every castle, but this will take years, just for the backlog of 200 castles we’ve visited so far, let alone the 400+ castles we are still yet to visit!
Hopefully I’ll carry on blogging and will build our audience. Please like and share our posts wherever you can as it will really help with our exposure and make the effort we put in worthwhile.
The first 200 Castles visited in Wales:
Here is a list of the first 200 castles Indigo and I visited in our first year of the Welsh Castle Project.
I do have pictures and notes, and even arbitrary scoring, of all these castles which will be included in their individual blog posts as and when they are written. (whenever that happens I’ll add links to this list so that each castle has a link to it’s fact file.)
But for now here is just the basic list of the castles and the order in which we visited them:
1-Carreg Cennan Castle;
4-Loughor Castle Swansea;
5-Morris Castle Swansea;
6-Ivy Tower on hill near Neath;
8-Hughs Castle Gorseinon;
9-Hendy Castle Gorseinon;
14-Cefn Barn Ringwork;
24-Nos Motte, Maerdy;
25-Craig y Nos Castle;
33-Castell Du (Ddu);
35-Garn Goch Y Gaer Fawr, Llangadog;
39-Ammanford Castle aka Castell Rhydaman;
40-Cae Castle Swansea;
42-Norton Camp, Oxwich;
43-Montyborough (Penrice) Castle, Gower;
45-Weobley Castle, Gower;
46-Llanelli Old Castle, aka Carnwyllion Castle, Llanelli;
47-Stradey Castle, Llanelli;
49-Hensol Castle, RCT;
55-Beaumaris Castle, Anglesey;
56-Aberlleiniog Castle, Anglesey;
57-Trefadog Castle, Anglesey;
58-Holyhead Castle (Caer Gybi), Anglesey;
59-Caer y twr, Holyhead, Anglesey;
60-Castle Bryn Gwyn, Anglesey;
61-Caer Leb, Anglesey;
63-Dolbadarn Castle, Ladberis;
64-Llawhaden Castle (bishops of St Davids Castle);
65-Roman Neath (Nidum);
68-Castle Tal Y Fan;
70-Gelli Garn Ringworks;
73-Cwmafan Iron age Hill Fort;
74-Pont Estyll Ringwork (Glyn Tarrell);
80-Montgomery Castle (Castell Trefaldwyn);
84-Coity Castle, Bridgend;
85-St Quentins Castle;
87-Old Beaupre Castle;
90-The Old Place;
92-East Orchard Castle;
99-Caerleon roman Fort;
104-Twyn Bell Camp;
105-Llangybi Castle (aka Tregruk Castle);
110-Llanmelin Wood Hillfort;
111-Waun Twmpath Llanelli;
115-Laugharne Castle (Castell Talacharn);
117-Newcastle Emlyn Castle;
118-Parc y Domen Issa;
119-Albro Castle, Cardigan;
120-Cardigan Old Castle Motte;
122-Castell Nant y Garan;
123-Castell Llwyn Bedw;
125-Newcastle Motte and bailey, Monmouthshire;
126-Trellech castle also known as Tump Terret;
128-St Mary’s Yard Mound;
130-Hanbury Arms Tower, Caerleon;
132 & 133 – Cefnllys castle(s), Llandrindod;
135-Cymaron siege castles, Cwm Aran, Llandrindod;
136-Tomen Bedd Urge;
137-Castell y Blaidd;
138-Tretower Court and Castle;
139-Roundhouse Towers Nantyglo;
140 + 141 – St Illtyds Castle and Castle Tailorium;
142-Aberysgir Castle, Powys;
143-Llangoed Hall, Powys;
144- Painscastle Castle;
145 + 146- Aberedw Castle;
148-St David’s Bishops Palace;
151-Hays Castle motte;
154-Wolfs Castle Motte and bailey;
156-Haverfordwest Castle (Castell Hwlffordd);
157-Ford Motte, Powys;
159-Knucklas/Cnwclas Motte and bailey;
162-Burfa Castle (aka Bogs Mount Castle);
164-St Clears Castle;
165-Ragwern Point Hillfort;
171-Parc Castell St Nicholas;
174- Dinas Island Castell;
175-Newport Castle, Pembrokeshire;
176-Newport old castle, Pembrokeshire;
177-Nevern Castle,(Castell Nanhyfer);
178-Castle Pill, Milford
180-Cresswell Castle Mansion
183-Carswell Medieval House
184-Lamphrey Bishops Palace
190-Great Rudbaxton Mount
194-Castle Villa Brawdy
198-Clyne Pattel Mound
The Future of the Welsh Castle Project:
So, 200 castles in Wales in one year is pretty damn impressive if I do say so myself!
But we still have a long way to go, we’ve done most of South Wales and about half of West Wales but not much of North Wales and still lots of the border to do. The whole premise of this project is that nobody has a definitive answer on how many castles there are in Wales, not even Cadw the welsh castle experts. The highest figure we’ve found (which didn’t have a list) was 641, of which we’ve now done 200 castles in Wales.
I’ve said it several times this year; we really wont be able to keep up this pace for the whole project, we’ll get burned out or bored, we’ll run out of steam or interest, so we are anticipating the number of castles visited to drop, if we can visit 100 a year we’ll be finished in 4years or so, that’s a manageable pace we can stick to without it being too taxing.
I’m thoroughly enjoying the project so far, the people we’ve met, the conversations we’ve had, the research we’ve done, the drives in the countryside, the cross-country hikes, the breaking the rules, the exploring history, and most of all spending time with my amazing son Indigo.
Thank you all for your support and encouragement, I look forward to more adventures and more blog posts documenting it.
Please continue to like, share, comment, question, join us etc.!
Dom and Indigo