Kidwelly Castle is situated high above the River Gwendreath and was erected shortly after 1106. It is probably one of the most under-rated castles of South Wales. Although it has seen a number of famous visitors over the years it is quite surprising how many Llanelli people have driven past it and have never taken the time to stroll through its ancient gates. Its beauty did not escape the eye of one of Britain’s famous artists, J. M. W. Turner who captured and painted its magnificent gatehouse and towers.

It was described in 1907 by one of our countries most famous archaeologists as ‘Splendid’! Writing to his mother on his cycle tour of Wales, the young antiquarian describes his visit to Kidwelly...

I had better tell you what I have been doing since I wrote to you from Tenby. I left that place about 12 noon next day, rain and other things delaying me. I had a miserably wet uneventful ride to Kidwelly where I slept. (Carmarthen Castle is not worth looking at). Kidwelly on the other hand is splendid. The state of it is good (just ruined enough to be interesting), and although quite plain, it is very large and strong. I did not draw a plan because it was wet and late, but on my next visit I will have much photography and planning to do. Specially remarkable features were the ovens and dungeons. The ovens were circular in shape, about 8 feet in diameter, and with low vaults (some 3 feet high). In front of the door was a fire-place and chimney: this seemed the only apparatus for heating. There had been two such ovens in the castle: one is perfect the other much damaged. The dungeons were under the gate tower. Two were of the ordinary kind, the third was conical, like the treasury of Atreus, or one of the old fashioned straw bee-hives, with a way in only from the top. The depth must have been about 10 feet and the place always pitch dark and very damp. There are records of many deaths in it …

The young author of this letter became the true Indiana Jones’ of the 20th century for he was T.E. Lawrence, better known as ‘Lawrence of Arabia'.

It would be interesting to know where he stayed overnight at Kidwelly?

Before visiting an ancient monument like Kidwelly Castle it is well worth taking the time to look up its history and architecture as it will give you an interesting insight and understanding to the structure and its exciting heritage and past - without which, it is just another ruin.

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