(Aberteifi) is a town
in the county
in West Wales
. It lies on the estuary
of the River Teifi
at the point where Ceredigion meets Pembrokeshire
. It was the county town
of the pre-1974 county of Cardiganshire
. The town's population
was estimated at 4,000 inhabitants in 2007, though it is a significant regional administrative centre for West Wales
, harbouring a hospital, college, a modern arts centre (with two-screen cinema) and a currently under-used nineteenth century guildhall
together with a theatre
and good shopping facilities. Cardigan is twinned
The town has recently (2006/2007) undergone a renaissance with a co-ordinated programme of building works restoring many of the facades of the town centre shops in a sympathetic style. The quayside has been rebuilt with a new civic area and landing stage.
The town was founded in 1093 by the Norman Roger de Montgomery
. In the following century Rhys ap Gruffydd
, the ruler of the kingdom of Deheubarth
, made a number of attempts to wrest the town from the Normans, finally succeeding in 1165. The castle was rebuilt in stone by Rhys ap Gruffydd 1171. In 1176 first National Eisteddfod
of Wales was held in the town. By the mid 13th century
the town was in the hands of the Normans once again who enhanced the town defences by building a stone town wall. During the English Civil War
, Cardigan Castle
was attacked by the parliamentary forces.
Since the Early Middle Ages Cardigan has been a port. Throughout the Middle Ages it grew in importance until by Elizabethan times it was, after Milford Haven, the most important port in Wales. A small shipbuilding industry and allied trades like rope and sail making were established in the port in the 17th century.
By the early 19th century over 300 sailing vessels giving employment to more than 1,000 men were registered at the port and more than 200 ships were built in the five shipyards. Cilgerran slate was exported from the port. The river silted up and the port died by the early part of the twentieth century. Plans to dredge it have come to nothing over the years.
In 1176 Cardigan Castle
became the site of the first competitive Eisteddfod
. Cardigan also hosted the National Eisteddfod of Wales
in 1942 and 1976. The castle
was for many years in private hands and as a result became run down and derelict. The town council itself showed little interest in saving it. However a group of volunteers, and the local Catholic Priest, working separately did raise its profile. Ceredigion County Council
finally bought it in 2003.
Cardigan is predominantly a Welsh language
speaking community. At the last census
more than 70% of the residents were recorded as being able to speak or understand spoken Welsh with 48% able to speak, read and write in the language. In 1176 and again 800 years later the National Eisteddfod was held in the town. In 2003 the community together with the Welsh Language Board
set up a language action plan designed to provide opportunities for people of all ages to get together to speak Welsh. The county council, Twf, Mudiad Ysgolion Meithrin, the Urdd, Cardigan town council, the local Young Farmers, Menter Aberteifi and the Board are working together in pursuit of its objectives.
Shrine to Our Lady of Cardigan
Cardigan is also the site of Wales' premier Roman Catholic Shrine
in Wales. In pre English Reformation
times it was known for a statue of the Virgin Mary
, who held a candle whose flame never extinguished. It is known as the shrine to Our Lady of the Taper.
Cardigan Island lies just 200 metres offshore near the town at Gwbert.
Cardigan railway station was closed under the Beeching Axe in 1963.
The village of Moylegrove is nearby.