My personal blog as a 'grown-up' Goth and Romantic living in the Highlands of Scotland. I write about the places I go, the things I see and my thoughts on life as a Goth and the subculture, and things in the broader realm of the Gothic and darkly Romantic. Sometimes I write about music I like and sometimes I review things. This blog often includes architectural photography, graveyards and other images from the darker side of life.

Goth is not just about imitating each other, it is a creative movement and subculture that grew out of post-punk and is based on seeing beauty in the dark places of the world, the expression of that in Goth rock. It looks back to the various ways throughout history in which people have confronted and explored the macabre, the dark and the taboo, and as such I'm going to post about more than the just the standards of the subculture (Siouxsie, Sisters of Mercy, Bauhaus, et al) and look at things by people who might not consider themselves anything to do with the subculture, but have eyes for the dark places. The Gothic should not be limited by what is already within it; inspiration comes from all places, the key is to look with open eyes, listen carefully and think with an open mind..

Friday, 29 May 2015

Carmarthen Castle/ Castell Caerfyrddin

During the Easter break, we went on holiday to visit friends/family in Wales. My Dad had never been to Carmarthen Castle before, so I took him to visit it. He's an archaeological geophysicist, so he tends to spend more time concentrating on burried ruins than on those remainign more vertical. I took most of the photographs on my camera-phone. My new smartphone is pretty dire for indoor photography, but actually rather good for outdoor photographs; the only problem I have is that it is hard to hold it still, especially as it is so thin and light.

Gatehouse. Photograph by the HouseCat

This photograph was taken from the city centre side of the castle, looking up at the imposing and sturdy gatehouse. In its heyday, it would have been a true stronghold, well defended against attackers with vast walls and a garrison of knights and warriors. I'm not sure what sort of roof the gatehouse would have had, but I imagine it once loomed even taller. All the walls are hugely thick and very sturdy. Apparently, there are further remains of fortifications and associated buildings outwith the curtain wall (big perimeter walls of the castle compound) underneath parts of the city's central shopping district!

Large round tower, looking up. Photo by HouseCar

Carmarthen Castle is rich with Arthurian legend, and according to legend, the town is named after Merlin, or Myrddin (pronounced something akin to "Merthin" - I am not Welsh, and that is my attempt at writing how my Welsh-speaking friends pronounce it, in English phonics. Natively speaking and flluent Welsh speakers are free to correct me :) ), but actually, Myrddin was named after the town, as he was supposed to have been born near there, and the city was named after one of fortresses that have stood there, which overlooking the estuary, was called Moridunum by the Romans - a Latinisation of even older Brythonic, and basically, it meant 'Sea Fort'. The castle, being one fortification in a long history of fortifications there, is part of that history, and is situated on a prominence overlooking the river, and where the bridge now is. It would have once been guarding the way in from the sea. The road now runs directly below it, and beyond that the railway comes in.

Trefoil Gothic window. Photo by the HouseCat

Merlin is supposed to be trapped in a nearby hill, within which the Crystal Caves are supposed to be hidden. The shopping precinct there is called Merlin's Walk in English and Maes Myrddin in Welsh, and there's some interesting public sculpture in the city on an Arthurian theme. Considering the connection to Merlin, most famous of British mythological wizards, I am surprised there are not more local metaphysical shops and Neo-Pagan suppliers capitalising on that theme; perhaps this is a good thing as in other places with Arthurian connections such as Glastonbury, some of that can get a bit tacky and 'touristy'.

Part of castle keep. Photograph by the HouseCat

The road is significantly below the castle walls, and you have to walk up steps to reach even the bottom of them. This photograph is looking up from those steps, towards one of the towers. Until fairly recently, it was possible to walk up one of the original spiral staircases, but unfortunately it appears that there has been instability and partial collapse, so that staircase is now barred up. There is not much left of the castle above ground, but next door is a building that was once a prison, and is now council offices (and which was built in a style that certainly took aesthetic influence from the neighbouring castle) and what is now the carpark has a massive stone wall around it. Within that wall are still visible portions and traces of castle architecture, but it was hard to get a good photograph, and as the council carpark is private, I coul not just go down and take pictures. 

::Carmarthen Castle at Castles of Wales:: - I recommend this link because it shows the extent of the remaining castle with large size photographs, clearer than mine. Includes picturess from the carpark.
::Carmarthen Wikipedia Page::
A lot of what I have learnt about the castle is from the signs there, and from talking with my friends and relations local to Carmarthen, especially Kate B. and Raven's father.


  1. What a marvelous place to visit! You did very well with the photos too. It's hard to imagine what it must have been like to actually live and interact there during Merlin's time, but I would imagine that even visiting there now might leave a person with strong impressions.

    If Carmarthen Castle is associated with Merlin, I would guess that Tintagel, where he allegedly schooled Arthur as a boy, must be nearby.

    1. "Nearby" is not necessarily the right word; Tintagel is actually quite a long way away by road - being on the Northerly coast of Cornwall (another part of Britian with a Brythonic language). It is, looking at a map and guessing, about 100km by sea between the two. Most of the Arthurian legends happen in the West of the UK, but there are references to places like Northumberland. Glastonbury, Cadbury Castle etc. are in Somerset and have a lot of Arthurian connections. Maybe I'm biased due to having lived in Bristol for a while, but I often think of the West of the UK as the locations for Arthurian legend. The French Arthurian romances have other locations (Carlisle, for example), but my preference is to think of Arthurian legends as being set in the West of England, Wales and Cornwall.

  2. Great, I love it! Enjoy the weekend!

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  3. Super post! Keep posting articles about stuff like this to tell us what to visit when I will come to Scottland (maybe some day, it would be great)! Bye from France, Mirjam.

    1. There's going to be a lot more of this sort of stuff going onto my blog in the next few weeks. Carmarthen Castle is in Wales (Pays de Galles), but I will be posting about places in Scotland (Écosse) soon, including more castles.

  4. love the pics and thank you for all those informative text!

    1. Thank-you :) I try to give a bit of context and background to my photography. I guess being educational becomes a force of habit after all these years working in a school!


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