I was about seven years old when my Dad first took me to see Morlais Castle. He showed me a huge hole in the ground, which he said had been the well, but now I think it was more likely used for waste products! He told me about the time that he’d climbed down there to rescue his brother’s shoe, but slipped when halfway down and fell to the bottom. He couldn’t climb back up and was later rescued by a local farmer. He showed me the moat, and he showed me the only structure still standing and said it was the dungeon. I think that he called it that to make it sound more exciting to a young boy, or maybe because I wouldn’t know what a crypt was.
There really wasn’t much to see, but I remember a feeling of wonder on standing in a place where there had once been an ancient castle. At the time my family lived less than a mile away and over the next three or four years, I spent many happy days exploring the area. Surrounding more than half the site, was what I thought was a natural cliff-face, making attack impossible from these sides. It seemed like such a great place to build a castle. My romantic illusion was shattered, when I later learned that the cliff had been carved out of the side of the mountain. This happened many years after the castle had been destroyed, when the area was quarried for its limestone.
The history books show that Morlais Castle was built by Gilbert De Clare. De Clare also built the magnificent Caerphilly Castle, which is still largely intact, some twenty miles to the south. Click if you want to know more about Morlais Castle.