Granvilles Castle, Neath

Has been described as a Possible Timber Castle (Motte)

There are no visible remains

NameGranvilles Castle, Neath
Alternative NamesNeath Motte; Castell-nedd; Cwrt Herbert
Historic CountryGlamorgan
Modern AuthorityNeath Port Talbot
1974 AuthorityWest Glamorgan

The site of the first castle of Neath was given by Richard de Granville, its owner, to the abbey of Neath, which he had founded. About the year 1111, according to the Aberpergwm Brut, Richard returned from the Holy Land, bringing with him a Syrian architect, well skilled in the building of monasteries, churches, and castles, and by him we may presume, a new castle was built on the other side of the river, though the present castle on that site is clearly of much later date. The monks of course destroyed all vestiges of the first (probably wooden) castle. (Armitage)

the Neath Abbey grange of Cwrt Herbert at a point opposite the grassy traffic roundabout known locally as the "Cwrt Herbert" roundabout. Here, at a site now occupied by a small wood and a cement works, the local historian, the late George Eaton, believed he had discovered a wooden motte and bailey Norman castle. Documentary evidence of this is contained in the Charter of Neath Abbey which says, "The Abbey was built on the site where Sir Richard Grenville's castle once stood". Remains of a man-made mound can still be seen there and the Commission for Ancient Monuments has confirmed that all the evidence points to this mound being the site of the "old castle", built probably between 1090 and about 1095 (so it pre-dated the Grenville castle built in Neath town later). (Lloyd)

After the conquest of Glamorganshire by FitzHamon, Richard de Granville, one of his knights, obtained a grant of the honour and lordship of Neath, with the privilege of exercising jura regalia, and all the other rights of a lordship marcher

The castle, of which only a small portion is at present remaining, is said to have formed part of the possessions of Iestyn ab Gwrgan, by whom it is supposed to have been originally built; but it is certain that Richard de Granville, if not the founder, materially improved it: the church, in its immediate vicinity, is thought to have been originally a chapel for the accommodation of the garrison, and to have been subsequently enlarged, and appropriated to the use of the parishioners. The same Richard, in the reign of Henry I., with the concurrence of his wife Constance, gave their chapel belonging to the castle, with all its endowments, a considerable tract of waste land in the neighbourhood, and other property, to the abbot of the convent of Grey friars at Savigny, in France, for the erection and endowment of a similar monastery near the town of Neath. (Lewis)

Gatehouse Comments

The actual charter is viewable online and reads capella' nostri castelli de Neth' i.e. chapel of the castle and may mean a grant land associated with the living of the chapel (which may, as Lewis suggests, actually be Neath parish church) rather than a grant of an actual chapel or castle building. If so the likelihood is the earlier timber castle was on the site occupied by the later stone castle. Mr Eaton's motte and bailey may be some spoil dump dressed up with some fantasy and a misreading of the charter. It is unlikely there was a different site for the earlier castle but the question needs further research.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

Not Listed

County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSS749976
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  • Morgan, Gerald, 2008, Castles in Wales: A Handbook (Talybont: Y Lolfa Cyf.) p. 254 (listed as lost)
  • Pettifer, Adrian, 2000, Welsh Castles, A Guide by Counties (Boydell Press)
  • < >RCAHMW, 1991, An Inventory of the Ancient Monuments in Glamorgan Vol. 3 Part 1a: The Early Castles (London: HMSO) < > VE2 p. 156-7
  • Salter, Mike, 1991, The Castles of Gwent, Glamorgan and Gower (Malvern) p. 57
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 171
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 367
  • Colvin, H.M., Brown, R.Allen and Taylor, A.J., 1963, The history of the King's Works Vol. 2: the Middle Ages (London: HMSO) p. 650-1
  • Armitage, Ella, 1912, The Early Norman Castles of the British Isles (London: John Murray) p. 296-7 online copy
  • Birch, 1902, History of Neath Abbey (Neath) p. 20-2, 57-8
  • Lewis, Samual, 1849, A Topographical Dictionary of Wales online copy
  • Francis, G.G., 1845, Original Charters and Materials for a History of Neath and its Abbey (Swansea)

Guide Books

  • Lloyd, Bernard, 1993, Official Dyffryn Clydach Council guide

Primary Sources

  • Clark, G.T., 1885, Cartae et alia munimenta quae ad dominium de Glamorgancia pertinent Vol. 1 p. 75 online copy
  • 1130, Foundation charter of Neath Abbey online copy