Where possible I try to visit places I might not otherwise get to see when out working. The other day I had a few hours to kill in between some film making I was doing for a client of mine and I took the opportunity to have a visit to Cardiff Castle. I decided I would take the more expensive option and have the guide tour which set me back £14 which at the time I considered quite expensive, but most likely give me the best experience of the castle and grounds.
Cardiff Castle is an impressive building, particularly on the outside as the wall is massive and wraps itself around a large area right in the centre of the city. You cannot avoid the dominant crenelations as you drive or walk around around the city and the entrance tower is spectacular and definitely draws you in. What I didn’t appreciate though was that most of what you see is actually Victorian and not all that old. The oldest part of the castle is the Motte, the mound that the 14th century keep stands on. There are bits and piece of the original Roman fort and some elements of the Norman wall, although not really enough to get terrible excited out. The old shell of a keep on the motte dates from 14th century, which is pretty old and very impressive and you can access it and climb the stairs to the top. However, it is only a shell and there is not a lot to show you exactly how it might have looked or to inspire you as to how it was used by the Norman barons.
The main house as I mentioned is mainly Victorian and although very ornate with lust decorations, it sports a 19th Century view of the middle ages which I found curious but not really helpful to someone who is interested in the medieval period. The guided tour was only limited to the house and although the chap was very knowledgeable, you really got the sense he was going through the motions and didn’t really engage with the audience. I wanted to ask many questions, but he was constantly checking his watch and I felt pushed along.
All in all, I think there many things missing from the experience at Cardiff Castle and I do believe that the cost of entrance is far too excessive.