South Wales, the largest castle in Britain after Windsor, was built in 1268-1271 by the Anglo-Norman lord, Gilbert de Clare. Surrounded by an artificial lake it was a revolutionary masterpiece of military planning. The famous 10% leaning South-East Tower (it even out-leans the tower at Pisa) which is thought to be due to subsidence, not any military action. Photo gallery.
In the marvellous sweep of Cardigan Bay stand the ruins of one of Edward I’s late 13th century castles. Of the seven major English strongholds he established in Wales, Aberystwyth has fared least favourably in the survival stakes. Now little more than a few fragmented chunks of masonry displayed in a well-kept public park, the castle has lost its imposing hold on the town.
At one time guarded by one of the largest Iron Age forts in West Wales, Aberystwyth has been a place of strategic importance throughout history. The first Norman castle, built on a site further south, was begun by Gilbert de Clare but this has long since disappeared, having been destroyed and rebuilt numerous times during 200 years of political and family feuding. When Edward I begun his castle in 1277, it was a magnificent lozenge-plan concentric building of two stone curtain enclosures, flanked by sturdy round towers. Each curtain had a twin-towered gatehouse, the smaller outer gate leading to a barbican, and the inner gatehouse a substantial fortress with domestic accommodation. Excavations have revealed that a great hall stretched from this gatehouse to the south tower of the inner curtain, some 60ft long (18.3m) and 42ft wide (12.8m).