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Cardiff Castle Dog Walk

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Dog Friendly Walks South Wales - Cardiff Castle

Cardiff Castle

Cardiff Castle History

Cardiff Castle is one of Wales' leading heritage attractions. Being bang in the centre of Cardiff, you will need to park in one of the multi storeys in the town centre and walk to it.

During 2000 years of history, the Castle has been a Roman Garrison, a Norman stronghold and in Victorian times was transformed into a gothic fairytale fantasy castle.

The Norman keep was built on a high motte on the site of a Roman castra, first uncovered during the third Marquess of Bute's building campaign.

The Norman keep, of which the shell remains, was constructed about 1091 by Robert Fitzhamon, Lord of Gloucester and conqueror of Glamorgan.

After the failed attempt of Robert Curthose, Duke of Normandy, William the Conqueror's eldest son, to take England from Henry I, Robert of Normandy was imprisoned here until his death in 1134.

Cardiff Castle Prison Tower

The first Norman castle was built on the site in about 1091, by Robert Fitzhamon, Lord of Gloucester and one of the Conqueror's favoured followers, an earth and timber fortification, merely a mound and bailey.

The motte, erected over a rocky hillock, was some 40 feet tall, and would have been protected by a timber palisade.

During the 12th century, the castle's lord, Robert "the Consul" (the natural son of King Henry I), realized the defensive value of reinforcing his fortress with stone and ordered the construction of the shell keep. The 12-sided keep survives in fine condition, the only significant additions being its 15th century gatehouse and the stairway breaching the sloping motte.

For a time, the keep was the prison of Robert, 2nd Duke of Normandy (and also FitzRoy's uncle), on the command of FitzRoy's father, the king.

Much of Cardiff Castle's history revolves around conflicts with the native populace. In 1183-84 the Welsh revolted, and caused much damage to the castle and its associated town. Even though the powerful de Clare family took hold of the castle (as well as numerous other estates) in the following century, problems persisted with Welsh insurgency.

In the 1270's, when Wales was unified under the leadership of the charismatic Welshman, Llywelyn ap Gruffydd (the Last), Gilbert de Clare refortified the castle in anticipation of further Welsh rebellion. The curtain wall was strengthened and construction of the Black Tower and south gateway was initiated. The much awaited assault never occurred and de Clare's work remains to this day.

Visiting Cardiff Castle will only take a couple of hours. The impressive interior is suitable for a rainy day, while in good weather, walk across the courtyard and explore the mini prison 'tower'.

Cardiff Castle and Olya Gover

Cardiff Castle transformed into a Victorian mansion

In the late 18th century the original Norman Castle had been enlarged and refashioned in an early Gothic Revival style for Bute's great-grandfather, the 1st Marquess, by Henry Holland.

Bute despised the result and engaged the architect William Burges, who shared Bute's interest in medieval Gothic Revivalism, to undertake rebuilding.

This shared passion, combined with Bute's almost limitless financial resources, led to Burges re-building on the grandest scale.

It was Burges's imagination, his scholarship, his architectural and decorative talents, his inventiveness and his sheer high spirits that combined to make Cardiff Castle the "most successful of all the fantasy castles of the nineteenth century."
Cardiff Castle's Prison Tower on hill

Read a comprehensive and useful History of Cardiff Castle

See the above link for the useful history of Cardiff Castle. Some people do not realise it is a genuine medieval castle, because of the considerable alterations by the Bute Family. The ornate clocktower and other Victorian improvements are quite separate from the Castle's tower, or Great Keep, resting on the raised ground in this picture.

The castle goes back to Roman times, as there were Roman Barracks and a fort on the land now occupied by the castle.

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