Page images
PDF
EPUB

advanced, the narrow valley still further contracted, and the river, confined by the approaching bases of the mountains, assumed the character of a torrent. Our road continued on one margin of the river, and a canal, singularly abounding with locks, kept pace with us on the other; to the Cyclopean region of Merthyr-tidvill *. We did not enter the town, but re-measured our steps to Ponty-pridd ; and about four miles below it bade adieu to the romantic course of the Taffe, in deviating up a steep confine of its valley towards the town and castle of Caerphilly.

The celebrated ruin of CAERPHILLY CASTLE soon appeared at some distance beneath us, occupying the centre of a small plain, which, with its surrounding amphitheatre of hills, presented a display of regular fences and cultivation that strikingly contrasted with the distriet that we had just left. The idea formed on a first view of this stupendous pile is rather that of a ruined town than a castle:

* From this place a turnpike-road extends through the mountains to Brecon, a district so wild as not to present à Village, and scarcely a habitation in an extent of eighteen miles. - In the neighbourhood of Merthyr-tydvill I find described Morlashe castle, a ruin.

it

it is by much the largest ruin in Britain, although its dimensions are somewhat inferior to those of Windsor castle. The high outer rampart, with its massive abutments and frequent towers, still in a great measure entire, conveys at once a clear impression of the great extent of the fortress. In entering upon an examination of the ruin we passed the barbican *, now built up into habitations ; and, proceeding between two dilapidated towers, entered the great area of the castle :-a range of building, beneath the rampart on our right, once formed the barracks of the garrison. We then advanced to that pile of superior building, i. e. of citadel, hall, chapel, state and other apartments, which is generally considered as the castle, in distinction from the encircling area and its wall : clambering over the fragments of another drawbridge and its defending towers, we entered the first court, which appears to have comprised the citadel : thence we passed through a large gateway, with several grooves for portcullises, to the principal court of the castle. The area of this court is seventy yards

* An outwork that defended the drawbridge.

by

THE NEW YORK PUBLE IDARY

ASTOP, LENOX AND TILDEN FOUNDATIONS

R

[graphic]

The appear

by forty: on the south side is that princely apartment, by some considered the hall, and by others the chapel : but, whichever it may have been, vestiges of much original beauty appear in the elegant outline of its four large windows; the grand proportions of the chimney-piece, and the light triplet pillars, with arches that go round the room. ance of mortice holes in the walls for the ends of beams, at the height of about the middle of the windows, led Camden to suppose that the cieling was projected from thence, and that an apartment above was lighted by the upper portion of the windows; but surely at a time when symmetry in building was so well cultivated, and where it appears to have been so successfully applied, such a ridiculous contrivance could not have taken place : more probably, as I conceive, from those mortices a support was derived for a lofty arched roof, or a gallery * Eastward of the hall, is the curiosity of a leaning tower, a bulky fragment of the ruin between seventy and eighty feet

* The external staircase entrance to the hall spoken of by Camden, “ the roof whereof is vaulted and supported by twenty arches,” is now rendered nearly impassable by rubbish.

in

« PreviousContinue »