One of the oldest towns in Wales, it was first settled by Celtic tribes and later by the Romans around 75 AD, who built a wooden fort on a small escarpment above the River Towy. No trace now remains of the original occupation, except for a Roman amphitheatre that once seated 5,000 people, discovered near Priory Street. The Carmarthen Museum, located to north-east of the town, displays many of the fine Celtic and Roman relics uncovered in the area.
Narrow winding lanes lead up between old houses to the gatehouse of a ruined 14th century Norman castle, now almost completely masked by the adjacent modern county hall. One of the oldest buildings in the town is 12th century St Peter's Church. The many splendid houses beside the church and the elegant buildings around the Guildhall Square, testify to the town's distinguished past.
According to local folklore, Merlin (King Arthur's wizard), is said to have been born nearby, around 480 AD. At the end of Priory Street is the withered stump of an old oak tree, which Merlin is said to have cursed: "When Merlin's oak shall tumble down, Then shall fall Carmarthen town". The stump has now been secured by iron bands and set in concrete by the superstitious towns folk.
The primitive art of salmon fishing, using nets strung from coracles, is still carried out on the local rivers. Coracles are small round boats made with a wickerwork ash frame covered with tarred calico or hide, designed and used by ancient Britons thousands of years ago.
Old Castle House, Carmarthen Castle, Castle Hill, Carmarthen, SA31 1AD
Tel: 01267 231557
Provides a in-depth account of the history of Carmarthenshire. Exhibits include social history, archaeology, Egyptology, ceramics and paintings, plus traditional Welsh costume and furniture. A number of period rooms include a Victorian schoolroom, a local farm life exhibition and details of the WWII homefront.
Opening times: Mon to Sat, 10am - 4.30pm. Admission Free
Location: Abergwili, Carmarthen, Carmarthenshire SA31 2JG - Tel: 01267 228696
Attractions & Heritage Parks:
Blaenavon | The Big Pit | Caerleon Roman Fort | Caerwent Roman Town | Cosmeston Medieval Village | Dolaucothi Gold Mines | Kidwelly Industrial Museum | Melin Tregwynt Mill | National Roman Legion Museum | Oakwood Park | Rhondda Heritage Park | St Fagans Museum | Old Station Tintern
Gardens & Historic Houses:
Aberglasney Gardens | Bedwellty House | Colby Garden | Dyffryn Gardens | Gnoll Estate | Llancaiach Fawr | Margam Country Park | National Botanic Garden | Scolton Manor | Parc Howard | Tredegar House
Nature, Wildlife & Scenic Sites:
Afan Forest | Craig-y-Nos | Cwmcarn Forest | Dare Valley | Gower Peninsula | Parc Bryn Bach | Pembrokeshire Coast National Park | Vale of Neath | Wye Valley
Castles, Monuments & Abbeys:
Caerphilly Castle | Caldicot Castle | Carreg Cennen Castle | Carew Castle | Castell Coch | Cilgerran Castle | Coity Castle | Dryslwyn Castle | Dinefwr Castle | Lamphey Bishop's Palace | Laugharne Castle | Llansteffan Castle | Llanthony Priory | Llawhaden Castle | Neath Abbey | Newcastle | Ogmore Castle | Old Beaupre Castle | Raglan Castle | Tintern Abbey | White Castle