Carmarthenshire County Museum is located at Abergwili, Carmarthen, SA31 2JG. It is managed by Carmarthenshire County Council. The museum is housed a building that began life as a college of priests, founded in the 1280s, which then became the palace of the Bishop of St Davids between 1542 and 1974. It was here that the New Testament and the Book of Common Prayer were first translated into the Welsh language in 1567 during the episcopate of Bishop Richard Davies. The museum tells the rich history the county through a diverse collection of artifacts, paintings and portraits. In addition there is a notable collection of Welsh furniture and costume, a Victorian era village schoolroom, articles associated with the county's farming and agricultural heritage and an exhibition on World War II's home front.
Humans have been living in Carmarthenshire since at least 40,000 years ago as evidenced by stone tools found in Coygan Cave, near Laugharne. Before the Romans arrived in Britain, the land now forming the county of Carmarthenshire was part of the kingdom of the Demetae who gave their name to the county of Dyfed; it contained one of their chief cities called Moridunum, and is now known as Carmarthen. The Romans established two forts in South Wales, one at Caerwent to control the southeast of the country, and one at Carmarthen to control the southwest. The fort at Carmarthen dates from around 75 AD, and there is a Roman amphitheatre nearby, so this probably makes Carmarthen the oldest, continually-occupied town in Wales.
Carmarthenshire has its early roots in the region formerly known as Ystrad Tywi (Vale of [the river] Tywi) and part of the Principality of Deheubarth during the High Middle Ages, with the court at Dinefwr. After the Normans had subjugated England they tried to subdue Wales. Carmarthenshire was disputed between the Normans and the Welsh lords and many of the castles built around this time, first from wood and then stone, changed hands several times during the conflicts that followed. Following the Conquest of Wales by Edward I, the region was reorganized by the Statute of Rhuddlan in 1284 into Carmarthenshire. Edward I made Carmarthen the capital of the new county of Carmarthenshire, establishing his courts of chancery and his exchequer there, and holding the Court of Great Sessions in Wales in the town.
The Normans transformed Carmarthen into an international trading port, the only staple port in Wales. Merchants imported food and French wines and exported wool, pelts, leather, lead and tin. In the late medieval period the county's fortunes varied as good and bad harvests occurred, increased taxes were levied from England, episodes of plague occurred and recruitment for wars removed the young men. Carmarthen was particularly susceptible to plague because the disease was brought in by flea-infested rats on board ships from southern France. In 1405, Owain Glyndŵr captured Carmarthen Castle and several other strongholds in the neighbourhood. However, when his support dwindled, the principal men of the county returned their allegiance to King Henry V. During the English Civil War, Parliamentary forces under Colonel Roland Laugharne besieged and captured Carmarthen Castle but later abandoned the cause, and joined the Royalists. In 1648, Carmarthen Castle was recaptured by the Parliamentarians, and Oliver Cromwell ordered it to be dismantled.
The first industrial canal in Wales was built in 1768 to convey coal from the Gwendraeth Valley to the coast, and the following year, the earliest tramroad bridge was on the tramroad built alongside the canal. During the Napoleonic Wars (1799–1815) there was increased demand for coal, iron and agricultural goods, and the county prospered. The landscape changed as much woodland was cleared to make way for more food production, and mills, power stations, mines and factories sprang up between Llanelli and Pembrey. Carmarthenshire was at the centre of the Rebecca Riots which took place around 1840, when local farmers and agricultural workers dressed as women and rebelled against the imposition of higher taxes and tolls. There is a car park with Disabled parking. Light refreshments and a shop. Full Disabled access. Hearing loop. Toilets with Baby changing. Assistance dogs are welcome. Guide dogs allowed. Walks and picnic sites.
Location : Carmarthenshire Museum, Abergwili, Carmarthen SA31 2JG
Transport : Carmarthen (National Rail) then bus (279 or 280/281). Bus Routes : 277, 279, 280/281 282 and 283 stop nearby.
Opening Times : Tuesday to Saturday 10:00 to 16:30.
Tickets : Free
Tel. : 01267 228696