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Recommended Welsh Castles 

The list below represents what are arguably some of the best castles in Wales to visit, based on a variety of factors, including:

  1. Nearly complete castles with extensive ruins that remain similar to their medieval or post-medieval appearance.
  2. Historically significant castles that were either administrative centers or where significant events in Welsh history unfolded.
  3. Castles situated in dramatic landscapes or occupying impressive defensive positions.
  4. Castles offering educational and learning tools such as onsite exhibits.
  5. Castles that are textbook examples of a particular style of Welsh castle, including:
  1. Castles that are simply some of my personal favorites!

Please keep in mind that not all of the recommended castles feature substantial walls and towers. Some of the most historically significant and dramatically-sited Welsh castles today have few surviving remains. Nevertheless, most historians and many who have visited Wales will agree that some of these lesser known castles can be just as rewarding to explore. 

In addition, these castles feature a large aerial photograph of the site courtesy of the castlegraphics.com website:

Dryslwyn ♦ Conwy ♦ Manorbier ♦ Dolbadarn ♦ Criccieth ♦ BeaumarisDolwyddelan ♦ Caernarfon ♦ Carew  Laugharne  ♦ DenbighPembrokeRhuddlan

Aberystwyth ♦ Llawhaden ♦ Castell Moel

Castle Location Comments
Beaumaris Castle Anglesey, North Wales picturesque, mighty fortress located on Isle of Anglesey built by Edward I. One of the best.
Builth Castle Powys, Mid-Wales large medieval castle with substantial earthwork remains; recommended textbook motte.
Caernarfon Castle Gwynedd, north Wales Edward I's well-preserved, impressive castle is one of the best in Wales.
Caerphilly Castle Caerphilly, south Wales Gilbert de Clare's military masterpiece was ahead of its time and changed castle construction.
Cardiff Castle Cardiff, south Wales original motte and bailey survives inside an earlier Roman wall; impressive Victorian-era additions.
Carew Castle Pembrokeshire, south Wales original castle rebuilt and replaced by a beautiful late-medieval-Tudor masterpiece.
Carreg Cennen Castle Carmarthenshire, south Wales substantial Welsh castle situated in spectacular countryside. One of the best and a must-visit.
Castell y Bere Gwynedd, northwest Wales remains are less substantial but this is an historic castle set in a spectacular Welsh landscape.
Chepstow Castle Monmouthshire, south Wales historic, substantial stone castle built by William FitzOsbern. Another must-see Welsh castle.
Chirk Castle Wrexham, northeast Wales late 13th century substantial, beautiful National Trust castle set in stunning gardens.
Conwy Castle Conwy, north Wales magnificent castle of Edward I in north Wales; another must-see castle set in a beautiful location.
Criccieth Castle Gwynedd, northwest Wales built by Llywelyn the Great; rebuilt/strengthened by Edward I. Beautiful coastal location. 
Crickadarn Ringwork Powys, mid-Wales damaged D-shaped ringwork lying just west of the church in the village; no known history.
Denbigh Castle Denbighshire, north Wales Edward I castle w/substantial remains and nearly complete town wall, the highlight here.
Dinas Castle Powys, Mid-Wales  hilltop castle with a large bailey, stone keep, walls and towers now greatly reduced. Spectacular setting.
Castell Dinas Bran Denbighshire, north Wales
castle built on an Iron Age Hillfort; spectacular views from the summit. Scant remains but worth the climb!
Dinefwr Castle Carmarthenshire, south Wales important Welsh castle built by Rhys ap Gruffydd; substantial remains overlooking the Tywi valley. 
Dolbadarn Castle Gwynedd, north Wales
historic Welsh castle set in the heart of Snowdonia, still dominated by its impressive round keep.
Dolforwyn Castle Powys, Mid Wales important stronghold built by Llywelyn ap Gruffydd; large castle with substantial masonry remains.
Dolwyddelan Castle Conwy, north Wales historically important castle associated with Llywelyn ap Iorwerth in the heart of Snowdonia. Beautiful.
Dryslwyn Castle Carmarthenshire, south Wales historic large castle built by Rhys ap Gruffydd set in a commanding position. Stunning location. 
Ewloe Castle Flintshire, northeast Wales smaller castle built by Llywelyn ap Gruffydd; classic Welsh D-towers; beautiful location.
Glyndyfrdwy Denbighshire, north Wales
historic ancestral home of Owain Glyndwr: a commanding motte and large baily survive.
Harlech Castle Gwynedd, north Wales Considered one of Europe's great castles, Harlech is a masterpiece of engineering, siting, and strength.
Hen Domen Castle Powys, mid-Wales
"Old Montgomery" Castle with its textbook motte and earthworks remaining; historically significant.
Kidwelly Castle Carmarthenshire, south Wales one of the most complete and impressive castles in Wales; a textbook of castle development.
Knucklas Castle Powys, Mid-Wales masonry fragments and large earthworks remain at this site. Impressively sited in a commanding position.
Llansteffan Castle Carmarthenshire, south Wales well-preserved, large castle set on a commanding hill; the Great Gatehouse is still impressive.
Ludlow Castle Shropshire, England substantial, historic, and nearly-complete castle; beautiful Norman Chapel occupies the bailey.
Manorbier Castle Pembrokeshire, southwest Wales
historic, substantial, and beautiful castle associated with Gerald of Wales; iconic gatehouse entrance.
Montgomery Castle Powys, north Wales
strongly sited castle with substantial remains outside the town; strategic and beautiful location.
Nevern Castle Pembrokeshire, southwest Wales historic castle built by Rhys ap Gruffydd; motte, earthworks and low masonry survives.
Ogmore Castle Bridgend, south Wales beautifully situated castle in south Wales; fragments of towers, walls, and buildings survive. 
Oystermouth Castle Swansea, south Wales castle is set on a hill overlooking Mumbles; beautiful coastal location with substantial remains. 
Painscastle Castle Powys, mid Wales impressive earthworks still dominate this site, including a large motte and steep ditches.
Pembroke Castle Pembrokeshire, southwest Wales massive, historic castle built by William Marshal; nearly complete and one of the best in Wales.
Powis Castle Powys, mid Wales
historic, beautiful castle modified over the centuries; outstanding grounds & gardens. One of the best.
Raglan Castle Monmouthshire, southeast Wales
late medieval fortress transformed into a Tudor masterpiece; perhaps the most handsome castle in Wales.
Rhuddlan Castle Denbighshire, northeast Wales substantial castle built by Edward I; massive West Gatehouse is still impressive; historic site.
St Clears Castle Carmarthenshire, south Wales large motte-and-bailey castle; the motte still dominates the surrounding countryside.
Stokesay Castle Shropshire, England
a rare fortified manor house hardly altered since the late 13th century; a beautiful survival worth visiting.
Sycharth Castle Powys, north Wales impressive motte and earthworks still dominate the site that was once the court of Owain Glyndwr
Tomen y Faerdre Denbighshire, north Wales impressive motte situated on a natural rock outcrop; recommended textbook motte.
Tomen y Mur Gwynedd, north Wales incredible multi-period site; large motte with bailey, Roman amphitheatre & Roman road.
Tomen y Rhodwydd Denbighshire, north Wales
built by Owain Gwynedd in 1149; large motte and bailey remain; recommended Welsh-built motte.
Twthill Castle Denbighshire, north Wales aka Old Rhuddlan; very large motte survives; former Welsh royal seat; recommended textbook motte. 
Usk Castle Monmouthshire, south Wales substantial castle surrounded by beautiful gardens. Lots of medieval features to explore here. 
Wigmore Castle Herefordshire, England Mortimer family castle recently restored; motte is still impressive and some towers remain. 
Wiston Castle Pembrokeshire, south Wales
steep motte topped by a round keep overlooks a large bailey; recommended textbook M&B. 


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Copyright © 2009 by Jeffrey L. Thomas