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Newcastle Emlyn

Newcastle Emlyn takes its name from the castle and the fact that it was in the old Welsh Cantref or district of Emlyn. The town straddles the River Teifi and as such the South is in Carmarthenshire and the North in Ceredigion. It is in fact two communities, Newcastle Emlyn to the South and Adpar to the North.

Today, Newcastle Emlyn is a busy market town with an array of small shops, cafes and inns.

The river meanders through meadows adjoining the town and provides natural protection for the castle to the North, South and East.

The River Teifi from the castle

It is said to be the site of the last dragon in Wales. During a town fair a Wyvern, a winged creature landed on the castle wall and fell asleep. A soldier approached the dragon across the river, with a large shawl that he spread on the water. The dragon awoke, flew to the river to grab the shawl but was speared by the soldier and drowned. The blood gushing from its body poisoned the river, possibly a reference to the belief that the creature caused the plague. To this day the town's rugby club has the dragon on its club badge. Some attribute the story to 1403 when Owain Glyndwr attacked the castle under the banner of the Red Dragon. The castle was subsequently retaken by Sir Thomas Carew. It is likely that the townsfolk at the time were of largely English origin and as such would not have supported Glyndwr.

The castle dates from 1240 and was built by Maredudd ap Rhys Grug being the only Welsh castle in the area built of stone. In 1287 the castle was taken by the English, retaken by Rhys ap Maredudd, beseiged by the English and surrendered after 23 days. There was considerable rebuilding in the 1340s. After the Glyndwr rebellion when the castle was briefly taken, it returned to Welsh hands in the middle of the 15th century by Gruffydd ap Nicholas, assisted by the Earl of Pembroke. Gruffydd's grandson Sir Rhys ap Thomas rebuilt the castle as a residence in 1485, but his grandson Sir Rhys ap Gruffydd was convicted of treason in 1530 and the castle and borough reverted to the crown.

A Royalist stronghold during the English Civil Warthe castle was taken by the Roundheads in 1644, retaken by the Royalists in 1645 and was the last stronghold to hold out for Charles 1 but was eventually taken and blown up in 1648. Much of the stone was taken to build the town.

The gate and a few walls are all that remain of the castle today.



The bridge across the Teifi connects Newcastle Emlyn with Adpar. The narrow bridge is now supplemented by a modern footbridge.

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Site and Photographs Geoffrey Davies 2008-10  Contact info@enchantedtowy.co.uk