Caerphilly Castle, covering an area of 30 acres, is the largest castle in Wales and one of the biggest in all of Britain.
In 1268, 'Red Gilbert' de Clare, Lord of Glamorgan, began building the castle to defend contested land during his conflict with Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, Prince of Wales. The castle is a magnificent example of a medieval concentric design, with the curtain wall of the inner central ward surrounded by an outer curtain wall which is surrounded by water defences and in some places by even more walls.
Every self-respecting castle has a ghost and Caerphilly is no exception. Locally known as the Ghost of the Green Lady, the spirit has looked out from the Grey Valley ramparts for centuries.
THE GREEN LADY OF CAERPHILLY CASTLE
Gilbert De Clare was the son of Richard De Clare who had come to this land with William The Conqueror in 1066. Because of his fiery red hair, Gilbert was known throughout the land as
Following his fathers death, Gilbert became expansionist in his ideas and wanted to take advantage of the turmoil that existed in the land at that time. The cantrev of
Senghennydd had been causing Gilbert much concern, the people of that land being more trouble
to him than a cart full of monkeys, and so he decided to build a castle at Caerphilly.
The castle was the finest and strongest that anyone had ever seen. The castle became Gilberts’ home and with him resided his beautiful wife, the Princess Alice of Angouleme. Alice’s beauty was known throughout the land as were the magnificent feasts and banquets that she prepared in the castle’s great hall. Though Alice loved Gilbert deeply she was greatly troubled by their relationship.
Gilbert was a man of war, a strong warrior who had little time for romance and though Alice longed for the love and affection of her man, none came from her husband. Starved of affection Alice fell deeply in love with “Gruffydd the fair”, prince of Brithdir, a frequent visitor to the castle. No two men have ever been so different in their ways as Gruffydd and Gilbert.
Gruffydd was as handsome as Alice was beautiful and he was sensitive to the needs of women. In Gruffydd, Alice found the love she longed for but it was a love that had to be kept secret. Gruffydd was so filled with love for Alice that he felt compelled to tell someone of his feelings and so confided in a monk believing a man of god would surely understand and give him good counsel.
Unbeknown to Gruffydd, the monk was in the employ of Gilbert and thought more of gold and riches than of love. The monk reported the affair to his master. Gilbert was enraged and at once ordered Alice back to France. He sent forth his best warriors to track down Gruffydd and kill him.
Gruffydd came to hear of his betrayal and sought out the treacherous monk and by the neck from a tree at a place which is known even today as Ystrad Mynach (Monks Vale). Gilberts’ men eventually caught up with Gruffydd and he too was hanged.
When news of her lover’s fate reached Alice in France, her heart burst with despair and she died instantly. Since that time, and to this very day, the people of Caerphilly have often seen Alice pacing the ramparts of the castle, dressed in the green envy of her husband.