Has been described as a Possible Fortified Manor House, and also as a Possible Pele Tower, and also as a Bastle

There are major building remains

Alternative Names
Historic CountryPembrokeshire
Modern AuthorityPembrokeshire
1974 AuthorityDyfed

The stone ruin of Carswell Medieval House currently stands amid a complex of modern farm buildings, but once formed part of the estate of the earls of Pembroke, for whom it was, together with its land, one tenth of a knight’s fee. This two-storey gabled building is of solid rubble construction, with vaulted undercroft. The external staircase is no longer in evidence. The house appears irregularly in the historical record, but is mentioned in documents from the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries. By the latter date the property appears to have been divided into two. It later passed into the ownership of the trustees of charitable foundations in Tenby, who held it from the seventeenth century until 1960, before it was once more sold into private hands. It was placed in the care of the state in 1982. (Coflein–ref. Turner)

History: The mediaeval house at Carswell appears to be the earlier of the two ancient buildings in the farm group. The holding named Carswell can be traced back to the early C14: in 1326 it was held for one tenth of a knight's fee. In 1397 its tenant was William Wyte. The date of construction of the house is unclear, but may be about 1500. According to Laws (1888), Carswell was split into two properties from the late C16 and perhaps earlier. In his time Carswell was being farmed as one but the freehold was still held jointly by the Trustees of the Tenby Charities and the Church of St. Mary's, Tenby. Both portions of the freehold have since been puchased by the tenant. In 1982 the mediaeval house passed to the care of the State and it is now maintained by Cadw. Barnwell's drawing (1867) suggest that the house was still then in possession of the skeleton of a roof, and Laws (1888) consequently refers to it as still roofed 'some 20 years ago'. Description: A perhaps C15 house consisting of a vaulted undercroft with a very large hearth and a single upper room with a small hearth, the latter room evidently serving as a solar

The plan has been described as curious, in that there is a separate entry to each floor but no internal access between them. A lost extension of the building at the E side evidently contained stairs to the upper floor. Coursed rubble limestone with gables to the E and W. The upper floor is a single room approx. 4.2 by 3.9 m, entered by a door at the NE corner two steps below floor level. A small hearth stands against the W wall, with a curved lintel on corbels and jambs. The stone hood above the fire slopes back into the wall and the flue branches into the main flue from the great hearth beneath. Projecting stones at the rear of the fireplace suggests hobs. The lintel and hood project about 0.3 m. Slit windows in the N, W and S walls, and a later window, wider and lower, in the S wall. The undercroft has a deep semi-elliptical vault running E/W. There are side vaults intersecting it at N and S, but neither appear to be original. There is an original doorway at the E of the N wall, with its headway cut into the vault. The hearth in the undercroft is approx. 1.4 m wide by 1.2 m deep. It has a segmental arch, almost flat, with deep voussoirs. Part of a bread oven remains at the left, but it is not original. There is also a stone bench beside the hearth, probably not original. Ancient Monument no. Pe 373 Listed Grade 2star as a remarkably complete example of a small mediaeval yeoman's house. (Listed Building Report)

Gatehouse Comments

Two houses of a similar design to northern bastles and of a similar date of about 1500., although the site, as a knights house, is older.

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

This is a Grade 2* listed building protected by law

Historic Wales CADW listed database record number
The National Monument Record (Coflein) number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSN098010
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink

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  • Davis, Paul, R., 2011, The Forgotten Castles of Wales (Almeley: Logaston Press) p. 60-61
  • Hull, Lise, 2005, Castles and Bishops Palaces of Pembrokeshire (Logaston Press) p. 66-7
  • Davis, Paul, 2000, A Company of Forts. A Guide to the Medieval Castles of West Wales (Gomer Press) p. 116-7
  • Jones, Francis, 1996, Historic Houses of Pembrokeshire (Brawdy Books)
  • Smith, P. 1988 (2edn), The Houses of the Welsh Countryside (RCAHMW)
  • Laws, E., 1888, History of Little England Beyond Wales p. 189-91


  • Barnwell, R.L., 1867, Archaeologia Cambrensis (series 3) Vol. 13 p. 201-3 online copy

Guide Books

  • Turner, Rick., 2000 (rev edn) Lamphey Bishop’s Palace, Llawaden Castle, Carswell Medieval House and Carew Cross (Cardiff: CADW)