Cardiff Castle - History and Facts | History Hit

Cardiff Castle

Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom

Cardiff Castle is a medieval castle comprised of a range of styles and with a diverse history dating back to the Romans.

Lily Johnson

01 Apr 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Cardiff Castle

Cardiff Castle is a medieval castle in Wales consisting of an 11th century Norman Keep and a lavish collection of 19th century state rooms. With roots in the Roman era, Cardiff Castle holds 2,000 years of fascinating history to explore in the centre of Wales’ bustling capital.

Cardiff Castle history

With good access to the sea, the site of Cardiff Castle first caught the interest of the Romans in the mid-1st century, and was home to a succession of Roman forts. In the 11th century, the Normans built a motte-and-bailey stone castle on the site of the Roman fortifications, featuring a striking Keep that still survives today.

Over the centuries, several aristocratic families came to own Cardiff Castle, many of whom added to the complex, yet it was not without conflict. Throughout the 13th and 14th centuries Cardiff Castle bore witness to many Welsh uprisings, and in the 15th was continuously passed through different hands during the Wars of the Roses.

In the 16th century however, the Castle passed into the hands of Prince Henry – the future Henry VIII – whose Tudor dynasty both brought an end to the Wars of the Roses and quietened much strife in Wales, the family being Welsh in origin.

In the 18th century, the incredible wealthy Bute family came into the possession of Cardiff Castle, undertaking an ambitious redesign and rebuild programme. Under the Butes, the Castle was expanded and renovated, creating the luxurious and grand House complex that survives today. Its lavish themed rooms were adorned with incredible artwork and architectural features, all designed by famous architect William Burges.

Later, the Castle’s surrounding walls would be used as air raid shelters during World War Two, shielding many of Cardiff’s citizens from harm.

Cardiff Castle today

Today visitors can tour Cardiff Castle’s opulent apartments, each complete with an array of elaborate murals, wood carvings, gilding, marble, and stained glass. The imposing shell of the Norman Keep remains high upon its motte and provides stunning panoramic views of the city, whilst affording visitors a look into the site’s medieval past.

Reconstructions of both Cardiff Castle’s old Roman walls and World War Two air raid shelters may also be viewed, truly capturing the diversity of the site’s 2000-year-old history, while the military museum of the Royal Regiment of Wales is also featured on the site.

Getting to Cardiff Castle

Cardiff Castle is located in the centre of Cardiff in Wales, and can be reached by exiting the M4 via Junction 32 and following the A470. Car parks are available in the city centre, or metered street parking may also be used. Cardiff Central train station is a 10-minute walk from the site, while a number of buses run to the nearby area, with the Castle Stop KA directly outside.

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