The county of Carmarthenshire in southwest Wales is renowned for its lush greenery – it’s sometimes referred to as ‘the garden of Wales’ – and its rich history, having been inhabited since prehistoric times.
The region witnessed more than its fair share of conflict throughout the medieval era – as its many scarred and ruined castles can attest to. Alongside its medieval attractions, Carmarthenshire is also home to an ancient Roman gold mine and an array of glorious early modern homes and mansions.
Here are 6 of the best historic sites to visit in Carmarthenshire.
1. Carreg Cennen Castle
First built in the 12th century, Carreg Cennen Castle is a stronghold sat atop a rocky outcrop near the River Cennen in Wales. The fortress has witnessed various instances of conflict and upheaval, particularly during the Owain Glyndŵr Rebellion in 1403 and during the Wars of the Roses.
Today, Carreg Cennen is overseen by Cadw. It has been in a state of partial ruin since the 15th century but remains open to the public. There are tea rooms and a gift shop on site.
2. Dolaucothi Gold Mines
The Dolaucothi Gold Mines are a collection of ancient Roman mines located in the valley of the River Cothi in Carmarthenshire, Wales. The area was first extensively mined by the Romans between 70 and 80 AD, with open-cast workings and several tunnels created to exploit the area’s gold veins.
Today the Dolaucothi Gold Mines are managed by the National Trust, who run guided tours around the site. Outside the mines, clear evidence of its usage can be seen on the landscape, including undulating woodland disturbed by the pits and trenches beneath and the many small hills made up of old spoil tips.
3. Pembrey Woods
Pembrey Woods, outside Llanelli in southwest Wales, was an important site during World War One and World War Two. The paranormal-inclined have claimed to witness wandering and dismembered figures in the woods, associating them with the soldiers who once served in the nearby abandoned bunkers.
These sensational claims about the forest led to it featuring on the reality television series Most Haunted.
4. Gwal Y Filiast
Gwal y Filiast – also known as Bwrdd Arthur – is a neolithic burial chamber or dolmen in Carmarthenshire, Wales, near the River Taf. Nestled within the countryside up a steep river bank, Gwal y Filiast is something of a hidden gem. The megalithic monument comprises four supporting stones holding up a larger capstone.
5. Dinefwr Estate
Dinefwr is an 800-acre National Trust estate in Carmarthenshire home to the grade II* listed mansion Newton House and parkland home to a herd of iconic White Park cattle. The cattle have called Dinefwr home since at least the 10th century, with their presence there described by Hywel the Good in 920 AD.
Dinefwr is now a National Nature Reserve. Visitors can explore the Deer Park, tour the historic Newton House and participate in seasonal events in the grounds.
6. Carmarthen Castle
Carmarthen Castle is thought to have been first constructed in the early 12 century, but was then destroyed and rebuilt on several occasions. After centuries of turbulence and upheaval, Carmarthen Castle was converted into a gaol that saw use during the 18th and 19th centuries.
The castle is now a Grade I listed monument and a popular tourist attraction.