Introducing Carmarthen (Caerfyrddin)
Carmarthenshire's county town is a place of legend and ancient provenance, but it's not the kind of place you'll feel inclined to linger in. It's a handy transport and shopping hub, but there's not a lot to see. The Romans built a town here, complete with a fort and amphitheatre. A couple of solid walls and a few crumbling towers are all that remains of Carmarthen's Norman castle, which was largely destroyed in the Civil War.
Most intriguingly, Carmarthen is reputed to be the birthplace of the most famous wizard of them all (no, not Harry Potter) – Myrddin of the Arthurian legends, better known in English as Merlin. An oak tree planted in 1660 for Charles II's coronation came to be called 'Merlin's Tree' and was linked to a prophecy that its death would mean curtains for the town. The tree died in the 1970s and the town, while a little down at heel, is still standing. Pieces of the tree are kept under glass at the Carmarthenshire County Museum.