History Comes in Layers

28 Feb 2012

Some towns have more history than you can shake a stick at. Carmarthen is one of them. Admittedly the county council seems to be determined to replace all that history with shiny new retail opportunities and 3D cinemas, but there is still some of the old stuff there.

Yesterday I had to go for an appointment, and the vagaries of rural buses left me hanging around in Carmarthen before the shops had even opened. So I wandered round taking photos on my phone.

This is part of the castle gatehouse. Behind it is the wall of the old gaol that was built in the shell of the castle, and behind that is the roof of the grim county council building they built to replace the gaol. It's history in layers on the landscape, an onion of pain and repression.

This is the front of the gatehouse, in the rain.

See those little windows near the top? You can get up to them and look out. You have to climb these stairs.

In front of the gatehouse there is a square (it's not square, but only someone who knows Carmarthen will get that joke). In the square there is a plaque commemorating the martyrdom of some bloke in 1555. They burned him to death for being the wrong sort of Christian. I took a picture of the plaque, but it didn't come out very well.

Some of the most interesting things about a town like this are the places behind places. The tiny lanes that you reach through an arch in the wall, the bits of roads that used to go places but don't any more. These are all the  remnants of an older town, an ancient place that's all but gone.

This is Bridge Street. It used to lead to the bridge until it got chopped off by a dual carriage way. Someone has painted a penguin on the wall. I think that's rather cute.

I have no idea what this place is really called. I know it as Smoker's Alley, but that can't be it's proper name. If it is, I really want to live there, just for the laugh.

That's all for now. After this the shops opened, so I went into Waterstones and browsed the books until it was time for me to catch my next bus.

Maybe I'll take some more pictures another day.


  1. Lovely photos. Though just looking at them made me cold. :)

    1. Hi Brenda.

      It was raining, but it wasn't particularly cold.
      Not for round here, at least!

      I'm looking forward to the launch of Goldfish Grim tomorrow!
      Very exciting :D

  2. Thank you for introducing me to Carmarthen -- and CONGRATS on meeting your Write1Sub1 goals this month!

    1. Hi Milo.

      Thanks :)

      And congratulations on your latest Captain Quasar story. He wins my popularity contest!

  3. In the square there is a plaque commemorating the martyrdom of some bloke in 1555. They burned him to death for being the wrong sort of Christian.

    *snerk* I know that's rather tragic, but found the comment pretty amusing and oh-so true.

    That must be such a cool place! I love historic places; like stepping into a time capsule and seeing a slice of decaying history cake. It probably wouldn't taste very good, tho.

    1. Hi Defcon.

      Cool place? Well, yeah, probably. I have a sort of love/hate thing going on.

      It rains a lot, though.

      I love 'decaying history cake'. It is sort of like that.
      Too much past and not enough future.

  4. I've not been to Camarthen - tit's now on my list of places to visit.

    Congrats on your W1S1 success.

    1. Hi Patsy.

      Just don't be too disappointed when you get there :)

      And look for the huge carved Merlin statue. He's pretty cool.

  5. Very cool place to visit. Congrats on your W1S1 progress!

    1. Hi Charity.

      Thank you. W1S1 is great for getting things done.
      I don't know where I'd be without it.

  6. Hey, I've been there. I think. It looks awfully familiar. Pity about the rain.

    1. Hi Debs.

      Yes, it was a shame about the rain.

      At least it wasn't freezing. Smoker's Alley is so steep it would be treacherous if it was icy.

  7. Just stopping in to say congrats on your W1S1 success.
    Those pictures are beautiful, and since I'm a very long way away, I hope you do take more.

    1. Hi Erin.

      Thanks for stopping by.

      The buses are so bad, I'm sure to be stuck there again one day :) So I'll take more if I have a camera with me.