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The castle sits on a much older Iron Age promontory fort, proving Llansteffan has been inhabited for several millennia. The hill's summit can only be reached from one side, and the hill where the castle/fort stands commands the entrance to the River Towy (unlike today, the hill would have been stripped of trees to make foot soldiers vulnerable to attack by archers). The original earthworks can still be seen and were used as part of the modern castle's defence system—the castle proper rests within the earthwork rings.
Norman period and after
The castle was built by the Normans after 1100 as part of their invasion of Wales.
It was captured by Maredudd ap Gruffydd in 1146 against the forces of Maurice FitzGerald, Lord of Lanstephan and his brother William FitzGerald, Lord of Emlyn who were the leading Norman settlers of the region. The castle was retaken by the Normans in 1158. Llywelyn the Great recaptured the castle for the Welsh in 1215 and taken back by the de Camville family sometime after 1223. The castle fell to Llywelyn ap Gruffudd in 1257 but returned to the de Canvilles by the 1260s.
It is rumoured that a secret passage leads from the castle to the nearby Plas Mansion.
- Guilbert and Schweiso, G C and J J (1972). "Llanstephan Castle. An interim discussion of the 1971 excavation". The Carmarthenshire Antiquity 8: 75–90.
- Lloyd, Thomas; Orbach, Julian; Scourfield, Robert (2006). Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion. London: Yale University Press. pp. 331–332. ISBN 0-300-10179-1.
- "Llansteffan Castle". Days Out. Cadw. Retrieved 29 Aug 2012.
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