Tuesday, 26 February 2008

A Walk Around Carmarthen

Click on the photos to enlarge.

The start of the walk, down a footpath which led past the back of Jewson's - fortunately just out of sight!

Allotments now where there used to be a thriving Medieval community - up until the Dissolution of the Monasteries in Henry VIII's time. There is a famous 'Black Book of Carmarthen', which was written around 1250, and has associations with the Priory of St John the Evangelist which stood here. It housed the Augustinian monks (or Black Canons).

Carmarthen Council has put up information boards at suitable points around the town. If you would like to know some more unusual facts about Carmarthen, this is an excellent site:


A very comprehensive history link is here:


Looking at this road now, it is very difficult to imagine that to the left was once the boundary of the Roman town. Carmarthen is perhaps the oldest town in Wales, and the Roman "footprint" of the town is still in place - obvious from aerial photographs.

Just by here (the Old Oak roundabout) Merlin's Oak used to stand. I can recall it set in concrete so that it didn't "fall" and fulfill the prophecy: "When Merlin's Tree shall tumble down, Then shall fall (or drown!) Carmarthen Town". Back in the 70s it was taken down to widen the road, and part of it housed int the Civic Hall near Nott Square. Then the Council saw fit to flatten many old buildings in the centre of Carmarthen and so the prophecy DID come true . . . Sadly, not even Merlin's magical oak could survive THAT long, and I believe that this particular tree was planted by a Master at Carmarthen Grammar School, to celebrate the accession of Charles II to the throne.

On foot, you notice the little alleyways leading off the main thoroughfare. These lead to what were called "yards" in the 1881 census (and subsequently), usually where the poorer folk of those days lived.

Sometimes there are much bigger buildings, and old farm buildings, evening what is now in the middle of town. Not sure what this was - I suspect an old warehouse or connected with industry.
I will have to check my census!

Through this archway, a lovely house sits sheltered and well back from the road.

I pass these little Georgian cottages by St Peter's Church regularly as I walk to King Street. The little terracaotta coloured one looks such fun, jammed in between the other two houses. I'd love to see how it sorts itself out inside!

There's not a great deal left of Carmarthen Castle. This is the Gatehouse. Behind it now stands the Council Offices, but previously they built the town Gaol there, flattening all but one curtain wall, a tower and the gatehouse in the process.

Another lovely little house tucked away out of sight - this time built up against the curtain wall of the castle. The gatehouse is that bit jutting out on the left.

With the Angel Vaults on the left (which incidentally has a very fine Medieval window still in place), this little street off Nott Square was exactly the same in the Medieval period as I've seen it on an early map of the town. There's a little boulder strategically placed on the right, at the foot of the wall, to stop wheeled vehicles (of the horse drawn sort) knocking against the wall.

At the bottom of Guildhall Square this building apparently was once the Coffee House in the town, in the days when tea, coffee and chocolate were exotic commodities. This is my conjecture - please correct me if I am wrong!

This is a short cut I use from Blue Street to the Greyfriars shopping centre. I'm not quite sure how it was in Victorian times, but there is a fireplace in the wall further up, so I imagine it was once a warren of rooms, and then someone knocked a wall down and it became a short cut!

Another Medieval routeway. This is at the back of Wilkinsons - or rather, "Old Tesco's" (as it was until recently). This leads into a footpath between the Civil War Bulwarks, another period in Carmarthen's history.

These are part of the Civil War defences (Bulwarks), inside the grounds of Dyfed-Powys Police station grounds. Neatly manicured now. It is hard to imagine any pitched battles happening in such a peaceful spot.


LBP said...

What an iteresting walk! The castle ruins are just fascinating!



Kelli said...

What a wonderful walk, Jennie! I love the beautiful footpath and of course the castles!

Strawberry Lane said...

Oh my, what a wonderful walk through and around history!

I'd love to live in the house that is against the castle wall.

Bovey Belle said...

Looks cosy doesn't it? I was taking a wander through the 1881 census last night, and there are some wonderful little lanes which no longer exist (sadly) since the 'improvements' of the 1970s. How about True Lovers Lane? Or Kidwelly Fach, where all the fishermen lived?