The original castle was built on the present site by Llywelyn the Great, it changed hands several times before finally became useless against new weapons. The last castle built at Aberystwyth was considered to be among the greatest in Wales, but today lies entirely ruined.
As early as the 14th century the fortress began to decay and by 1343, large portions of the main gateway and drawbridges were falling down. Its position close to the sea and strong winds are blamed for much of the destruction.
During its lifetime, the castle also served as a prison to four French prisoners in 1415, and in 1637 a royal mint was established there.
Today all that remains are the inner and middle walls of a once great castle and pieces of masonry strewn on the ground, which would once have had a further, outer wall.
The current state of the castle is due to the order for it to be blown up in 1649 and followed by the use of the castle stone by locals to build their homes. Located inside the castle walls today is the Bardic circle of 13 stones - one for each of the old, pre-1974 counties - erected during the 1916 Eisteddfod. One tall tower and the gatehouse are the best features left, apart from the wonderful naked lady emerging from a thicket on the War Memorial at the seaward corner. She is ‘Humanity emerging from the Horrors of War’ by the famous Italian sculptor Mario Rutelli, 1923.
The War Memorial, commissioned from Italy in 1919, is an excellent place to view the bay from. Also located in and around the attractive and well-maintained castle grounds are a popular children's playground, picnic areas, a putting green and a crazy golf course.
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