I like a nice castle - Caerphilly

August 11, 2015


Caerphilly castle is practically right on my doorstep and it's one of the most impressive castles in Britain - the largest in Wales and the second largest in the UK after Windsor.


      Built by Gilbert de Clare in 1268 to stop Llewelun ap Gruffudd's southward ambitions, it is an early example of a concentric castle with extensive water defences. Today it provides the backdrop for festivals and concerts, film sets and carnivals. It is said to be haunted and like so many ancient buildings a series of myths, legends and folklore surrounds it.


     Legend has it that the castle is haunted by a goblin called the Green Lady of Caerphilly. She wears a green robe, and has the power to turn herself into ivy and mingle with the ivy growing on the wall. This apparition used to warn the de Clare family about an eminent death. Now, though the castle is in ruins, the ghost is still seen.


     Another story is that the ghost is the spirit of Alice de la Marche, who was the niece of Henry II and the wife of Gilbert de Clare. Alice was beautiful, with dark hair and dark eyes. She was also flirtatious and provocative.


     The myth is that Alice fell in love with a knight called Gruffydd the Fair, and they became lovers. A monk supposedly reported the affair to Gilbert, who ordered his wife to leave for France, and sent his men to track down Gruffydd and kill him. When Gruffyd heard of the monk's betrayal, he hung the monk from a tree at a place known today as Ystrad Mychach (Monks Vale).  Gilbert's men caught up with Gruffydd and he too, was hanged.


     When Alice learned of Gruffydd's death it is said she died of a broken heart, and since then her spirit has wandered the castle mourning her lover. She is known as 'The Green Lady', perhaps because of the ivy which grows on the castle walls, or because green signifies Gilbert's envy. 


And maybe I will weave a story around this piece of Welsh folklore, one day..


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