The Castle that can be seen today was erected in Cardigan itself in the 1100, by Gilbert de Clare and if he had have realised what trouble this was to cause, he may not have bothered. Over the next 100 years the castle frequently changed hands between the Norman’s and the Welsh.
De Clare’s son gained control of the castle in 1136, the same year that Rhys ap Gruffydd, the prince of Deheubarth, or Lord Rhys, led the defeat of the Norman’s in the town at the bloody battle of Crug Mawr. His prize was the castle which he set about transforming from its original wooden structure into stone.
Rhys was the proud owner of the castle, up until his death in 1197, which marked the beginning of another period of conflict. His sons, Maelgwyn and Gruffyd, disputed their inheritance resulting in Maelgwyn surrendering Gruffydd to the Norman’s and selling the Castle to King John.
A variety of Norman owners called Cardigan Castle home until Llywellyn the Great attacked and destroyed the castle in a show of strength. In what now looks like a historical tug-of-war the Norman William Marshal was next to take control, followed by the Welsh and then yet another Norman.
After this final Norman conquest, during the 1240s, the castle was reconstructed. Two towers, a new keep and the town wall were all built to create the stronghold, the ruins of which are visible to visitors today.
By the end of the 13th century it was King Edward 1st who had laid claim to the castle. Peace the reigned for almost four centuries, 1645 and the English Civil War, when Oliver Cromwell took it upon himself to storm the battlements. Such was the damage that the castle lay uninhabited until the early 1800s when a private mansion was built on the property marking the end to the turmoil that has given Cardigan Castle the unique heritage it boasts today.