Something I never get used to – in the best possible way – are the castles scattered around the Welsh countryside. As an American I am pretty much bowled over by anything from the 19th century; ruins from the 12th leave me slackjawed. The natives, not so much, and as far as I can tell only notice them when American friends are visiting.
Six miles from my apartment in Swansea is Oystermouth Castle, in the village of Mumbles. It dates from 1106 when it was built by the Earl of Warwick. Like most castles in Wales it was a stronghold for English, would-be rulers who oppressed the local population. They were bitterly hated and over the centuries the castle fell back and forth between the British interlopers and the Welsh rebels who regularly ousted them. It remained in private hands until 1927.
In 2010, the castle underwent extensive renovations. Included was a glass floor 30 feet above the ground, which provides a viewing platform for the windows of a chapel that was added in the 1320s, and is today called Alina’s Chapel. The stained glass has been gone for centuries but today, looking through the arched windows, you can see the sky and the ocean beyond.
To read more about the timeline of Oystermouth Castle, go to: http://oystermouthcastle.wordpress.com/