Channel 4 documentary, Epic Wales, showed us one of Wales’ most brilliant castles from a new perspective tonight.
The opening episode of the six-part series sees a trio of climbing-loving castle maintenance experts who abseil down the side of Carreg Cennen Castle, the history of which you can find here, including the owners who bought it by ‘accident.’
The 13th-century castle, which is near Llandeilo, sits nearly 300ft/90m above the River Cennen on a great limestone crag and has marvelous views.
These views are shown off brilliantly by the Channel 4 show, narrated by Cerys Matthews, as castle-loving pals Alex, Ben and Will put to use their abseiling skills to save Carreg Cennen’s walls thanks to some pesky vegetation.
Bernard Llewellyn, the current owner of the castle and farmer, explained: “It is obviously a ruin, but still maintaining that ruin is still very, very important because this sort of building it is, because it’s so exposed it deteriorates very, very rapidly. It needs a bit of an upkeep every now and again.”
So after the official way of deciding who goes over the top to sort out some ivy which can push apart the stone walls – a quick game of rock, paper, scissors – we see the climbers, who run Highlife Rope Access and work on castles and cathedral across the country, get to work, but not before they carefully set up their ropes.
Alex Haslehurst of Highlife, says: “The challenges are finding safe places to attach the ropes to the building, obviously they’re very old, [the] mortar’s really old. You don’t want to be pulling anything off. So you know, we need to make sure that everything that we attach to is absolutely solid.”
You see the boys repointing the walls and picking out ivy and the drop is pretty hairy. But it doesn’t put off them off admiring the view.
- The castle dates back to at least the 13th century
- Roman coins discovered at the site suggests that people occupied the land centuries earlier
- It has six towers
- The first castle on the site was builit by Lord Rhys, ruler of Deheubarth, in the 12th century
- It was captured by Edward I of England in 1277
- King Edward gave the castle to a soldier named John Giffard, who had supported the king in his conflict with Welsh prince Llywelyn ap Gruffudd
- Giffard rebuilt Carreg Cennen into the impressive structure that it became in subsequent centuries
- Under English control, the castle was attacked by Owain Glyndwr in 1403, and was damaged further during the War of the Roses later in the 15th century
- It was once owned by Sir Rhys ap Thomas, a close friend of King Henry VII and a man who many credit with killing King Richard III
- By the 19th century it was owned by the Cawdor family, until they sold it to the Morris family in 1963
Will says, somehow while looking down from his exclusive view while dangling from a rope: “It’s one of the more scenic castle walls that I’ve been on.
“Not many are on top of a massive cliff, it’s great. I don’t know when the last people to get this view would have been. But yeah, it really is a pretty stunning place to work.”
Catch up with Epic Wales: Valleys, Mountains and Coasts on All4 now and it continues next Friday at 8pm.
Do you have a favourite Welsh castle? Let us know which one it is in the comments below