Bishopton Old Castle, Barland

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Ringwork)

There are earthwork remains

NameBishopton Old Castle, Barland
Alternative NamesOld Castleton Bishopton; Old Castle Camp; Barland Castle; Bishopston
Historic CountryGlamorgan
Modern AuthoritySwansea
1974 AuthorityWest Glamorgan

A subcircular enclosure, c.22m by 18m, set against steep slopes to the N, is defined by a bank and ditch. Elements of an outer enclosure have been observed to the E. Excavations in 1899 revealed two lines of stake-holes upon the bank, apparently revetments for a rampart. Finds were predominantly medieval, with some later material. (Coflein)

Partial ringwork with bailey on the edge of Bishopston valley; excavated by Morgan, who revealed details of defences (RCAHMW 1991, 81-3) (Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust HER)

On the nearby Barland Common, evidence of the old Barland Castle is still visible. This was the first medieval earthwork castle excavated in the whole of Glamorgan and is now visible as a broad ditch protecting a level platform some 25 metres across. During its excavation, several pieces of glazed pottery, fragments of a leather shoe and a bronze ornamental buckle were discovered. The site, unfortunately, lies on private land. (Chris Elphick 2007)

The monument comprises the remains of a ringwork dating to the medieval period (AD 1066-1485). It is situated on the crest of the southern side of a ravine above Bishopston Brook. The earthworks are of pen-annular shape and consist of a bank set against the natural scarp which defends a modestly raised oval interior, approximately 22m long from north-east to south-west by 15m. The flat-topped bank has no original gap for an entrance; that to the south probably marking one of the excavations cut in 1898. To the west of this narrow gap are traces of an internal stone revetment, probably related to those excavations, for no such feature was recorded. There is an internal ditch. Excavations undertaken here in 1898 by Lt. Col. W. Morgan discovered that the outer ditch had a v-shaped profile, originally up to 2.5m deep. In the body of the rampart, below its flat top, two rows of post-sockets were identified

These were 1.83m apart, and the front line had consisted of posts between 64mm and 114mm in diameter and averaging 300mm apart. The rear line of posts was less regular. A step halfway up the counterscarp of the ditch may have carried another row of stakes. The interior had been artificially raised to between 450mm and 600mm above the old ground surface. No structures were identified in the interior, but finds included a bronze buckle, the soles of leather shoes and pot-sherds of late 12th or early 13th century date. (Scheduling Report)

Gatehouse Comments

Despite being a rare example of a castle site that has been extensively excavated this castle is little known. Fortunately the excavation report is now easily accessible online.

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

Not Listed

The National Monument Record (Coflein) number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSS581900
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  • Morgan, Gerald, 2008, Castles in Wales: A Handbook (Talybont: Y Lolfa Cyf.) p. 238 (listed)
  • Pettifer, Adrian, 2000, Welsh Castles, A Guide by Counties (Boydell Press) p. 111
  • Higham, R. and Barker, P., 1992, Timber Castles (Batsford) p. 21, 22, 23, 206, 359
  • < >RCAHMW, 1991, An Inventory of the Ancient Monuments in Glamorgan Vol. 3 Part 1a: The Early Castles (London: HMSO) < > CR1 p. 81-3
  • Salter, Mike, 1991, The Castles of Gwent, Glamorgan and Gower (Malvern) p. 75 (slight)
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 161
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 110
  • Hague, D.B., 1971, in Pugh, T.B. (ed), Glamorgan County History Vol. 3 The Middle Ages (Cardiff) p. 437
  • Grenfell, Harold E. and Morris, Bernard, 1970 (Revised 1985) The Castles of Gower (Merthyr Tydfil) p. 2
  • Morgan, W.Ll., 1899, An Antiquarian Survey of East Gower (London) p. 180-3


  • King, D.J.C. and Alcock, L., 1969, 'Ringworks in England and Wales' Ch√Ęteau Gaillard Vol. 3 p. 90-127
  • Hogg, A.H.A. and King, D.J.C., 1963, 'Early castles in Wales and the Marches: a preliminary list' Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 112 p. 77-124
  • Morgan, W.Ll., 1899, 'Excavations at the old Castle Camp Bishopston Gower' Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 54 p. 249-58 online copy
  • Morgan, W.Ll., 1898, Swansea Scientific Society