Castle Narberth

Ruins of Castell y Arberth in Pembrokeshire, Wales

THE REAL CASTLE NARBERTH today now lies in ruins. I believe it is now privately owned and therefore not open to the public.

It played a significant role in Welsh mythology as the primary seat of power in the tale of Pwyll, Prince of Annwn. The Mound of Narberth also came into play as the portal that led into the Otherworld. Typical of early Celtic tales, the realms of myth and of historical record tend to overlap, making it difficult at times to distinguish between the two. In researching Welsh Mythology, I was inspired to choose Narberth as the setting for my medieval romance for precisely these reasons. While accounts of its past come to us in bits and pieces, much about its timeline remain shrouded in mystery to all but the most devoted students of Welsh history. The actual location seems less romantic than its lore would suggest, however it does offer many tantalizing glimpses into antiquity and the Age of Arthur.

After spending a majority of the past three decades viewing the world through the eyes of my protagonist, Ciaran ap Morgan, the shock of returning to a place that held such significance for him only to find it overgrown, crumbling and neglected required a serious attitude adjustment. I had to sit down with him for an extended heart-to-heart talk on what to make of this unexpected development.

Needless to say, he did not take it well. His disorientation caused me to feel ashamed for having failed to anticipate his understandable bereavement. He concluded that returning to the world of men had been a momentous mistake. Surprised at this, I asked him what he intended to do.

“I must go back at once,” he declared.

“Are you sure?” I pressed. “Aren’t you at all curious about how things have changed? You aren’t interested in exploring further?” He did not pause for a moment to consider it. He insisted his only option was to find a way back to the Otherworld with all haste. “Why would I want to remain in a world where everything I once knew, and everyone I once loved, is long dead?” he said, his face gaunt with anguish.

I do not know how I could have expected any other response from him. My heart filled with regret. We both decided not to linger any longer for fear of conjuring an army of ghosts.