Caerphilly Castle in south Wales stands proud amongst the medieval fortifications and strongholds in the United Kingdom and is classed among the finest in Europe. It is also one of the largest in Britain, stretching across 30 acres, second in size only to beautiful Windsor Castle .
The site had always been of great strategic importance and it appears that the Romans had a fort near the present fortifications at one point. The origins of the castle lie in the Anglo-Norman expansion into South Wales in the 1260s when a baron by the name of Gilbert De Clare, or Red Gilbert, started to build the castle in Glamorgan to seize lands from the independent Welsh nobility.
After the crushing of the last great Welsh revolt, the castle was no longer needed, and it was abandoned by the late 15 th century. Its water defenses or moats drained away and many of its stones stolen or used in local buildings. However, some Royalist forces established a fort near the present-day castle during the English Civil War.
A wealthy aristocrat, the Marquess of Bute, purchased the castle and partially restored it. The local Welsh tourist board took over the site after WWII when the marquis’ descendant donated the fortress to the state. They restored the castle and even re-flooded the moats.
Because of the spectacular nature of the fortress, it is used regularly for television productions. And like ever castle, it has its own ghost story – many believe that the grounds are haunted by spirits of the de Clare family, ghostly soldiers, as well as by the Green Lady, a banshee type creature who rises from the moat at night.
The water defenses, which are a series of moats, are among the most impressive in Europe. Fortification consists of two concentric defensive walls and along the walls are a number of well-preserved towers with battlements.