Aberystwyth Castle is a Norman fortress, built on the very edge of Cardigan Bay, with sweeping views out over the Irish Sea. Its construction was started in 1277AD at the order of Edward I, as part of his campaign to subdue the Welsh. In 1282AD, the still-unfinished castle was attacked and torched by rebels. Recaptured by English forces, work on the castle was finally completed in 1289AD.
Aberystwyth Castle soon established itself as the focus for a growing community, and by 1307AD, a town had sprung up around its walls. The new town and castle continued to flourish without incident until Owain Glyndwr attacked in 1403AD. The castle changed hands a number of times during the next 7 years, finally being recaptured by Henry of Monmouth. Following the suppression of Glyndwr's rebellion, the strategic value of the castle declined.
The castle was apparently still occupied in 1637AD however, since at this time, Charles I established a royal mint there. Royalist forces utilised it as a base during the civil war, but following its capture by parliamentarian forces in 1646AD, Cromwell ordered its destruction.
It's worth noting that the current site of Aberystwyth Castle is pre-dated by an earlier site a mile to the south. That site was originally home to an Iron Age hill fort, and was later occupied by the invading Normans. Gilbert de Clare built a motte and bailey fortification there around 1110AD, which was later reinforced with stone. That castle changed hands a number of times, finally falling to Llywelyn the Great in 1221AD.
Today, a few fragmented ruins are all that remain of the castle. Cosily tucked away at the edge of Aberystwyth, they still overlook the wonderful panorama of Cardigan Bay, making a pleasant retreat from the hustle and bustle of the vibrant university town. Despite its decrepit state, the castle still retains an evocative atmosphere, and represents a worthy detour for anyone visiting this part of Wales.