Neath Castle

Has been described as a Possible Timber Castle (Ringwork), and also as a Possible Masonry Castle

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameNeath Castle
Alternative NamesCastell-nedd; Neth
Historic CountryGlamorgan
Modern AuthorityNeath Port Talbot
1974 AuthorityWest Glamorgan
CommunityNeath

One of two castles at Neath, this one built later, circa mid-C12 on the opposite side of the river. It's defensive role continued until the mid-C17, thereafter used for recreational activities, while slowly decaying. Neath Castle occupies a strategic elevation on the east side of the Nedd river, at its lowest practicable crossing-point, about 6km NNE of its mouth. This river was tidal and navigable; the Roman road, the medieval Portway, which ran E-W across the lowlands, crossed the Nedd at this point. An earlier castle was first raised by Richard de Glanville in the 1120s, situated across the river, 600m west, within or close to a Roman fort, which had been dismantled by 1207. This second castle is not documented until mentioned in records dated 1183. It was destroyed during the 'Despenser War' in 1321, repaired in 1377, and continued to be used until the mid-C17. By C18 the castle had become a recreational area, while C19 saw the castle largely hemmed in by industrial cottages set against its walls, except on the north flank where a Quaker's graveyard impeded such encroachments. Excavations by Neath Antiquarian Society of a building lying inside the N curtain wall and abutting the N tower of the C14 gate. Total length of bldg 45ft, found C14 floor. Cock-pit uncovered (Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust HER)

Situated between the Hall and Castle Street at the northern end of the Old Town. Late C12 motte besieged by Caradoc ap Iestyn, Lord of Afan in 1185. Works revetted with stone in C13 and 2 towers and a gatehouse added. Castle taken by Llywelyn ap Iorwerth in 1231 and attached again in 1258 when town was destroyed. Captured in 1321 by Earl of Hereford during baronial wars when site was levelled and a new castle erected on the site. Rounded earthwork trace with stone revetment walls. Substantial remains of twin towered gatehouse to W. Three storey, D ended, rubble-work towers, traces of limestone dressings, evidence of C19 repair work

Decayed arrow slits to all floors, one intact to second floor right hand tower, numerous putlog holes. Machiolation arch over gateway at wall walk height, stone voussoirs, impost block survives to right. Blocked lancet over gateway. Pointed 2 order roll moulded arch to gate. Traces of barbican? to front. Steps of earlier C13 gatehouse within gate passage. Short length of curtain to right,single decayed arrow slit. The building was in a neglected condition, at the time of inspection (June 1988). (Listed Building Report)

The masonry remains of Neath Castle are thirteenth to foutrteenth century in date but lie on earlier earthwork remains. The castle is D-shaped in plan and about 30m in diameter. A cockpit was later built on the site. (Coflein)

Gatehouse Comments

It is often suggested, based on a particular interpretation of the C12 Neath Abbey foundation charter, that an earlier castle was built on a different site west of the river (See record for Granville Castle).

- 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 ReferenceSS753978
Latitude51.6650581359863
Longitude-3.80345988273621
Eastings275360
Northings197800
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Copyright Michael Holdsworth and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright Michael Holdsworth and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright Michael Holdsworth and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright Michael Holdsworth and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright Michael Holdsworth and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright Michael Holdsworth and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright Michael Holdsworth and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright Michael Holdsworth and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
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Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved
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Books

  • Kenyon, John, 2010, The Medieval Castles of Wales (University of Wales Press) p. 127-8
  • Purton, P.F., 2009, A History of the Early Medieval Siege c. 450-1220 (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press) p. 316 (1185 siege)
  • Morgan, Gerald, 2008, Castles in Wales: A Handbook (Talybont: Y Lolfa Cyf.) p. 240 (listed)
  • < >RCAHMW, 2000, An Inventory of Ancient Monuments in Glamorgan Vol. 3 Part 1b: The Later Castles (London: HMSO) < > p. 229-244
  • Pettifer, Adrian, 2000, Welsh Castles, A Guide by Counties (Boydell Press) p. 100
  • Reid, Alan, 1998, Castles of Wales (John Jones Publishing) p. 109
  • 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. 166
  • Davis, Paul R., 1983, Castles of Glamorgan (Alun Books) p. 14
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 367
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 251
  • Hague, D.B., 1971, in Pugh, T.B. (ed), Glamorgan County History Vol. 3 The Middle Ages (Cardiff) p. 432
  • Randall, Henry John, 1961, The Vale of Glamorgan, Studies in Landscape and History (Newport: R.H.Johns Ltd) p. 77
  • 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. 227-52
  • Lewis, Samual, 1849, A Topographical Dictionary of Wales online copy
  • Homfray, Jeston, 1828, The Castles of the Lordship of Glamorgan (Cardiff) p. 25 and plate
  • Buck, Samuel and Nathenial, 1774, Buck’s Antiquities (London) Vol. 2 p. 405

Journals

  • Kenyon, John R., 1996, 'Fluctuating Frontiers: Normanno-Welsh Castle Warfare c. 1075 to 1240' Château Gaillard Vol. 17 p. 119-126
  • Thompson, M.W., 1986, 'Associated monasteries and castles in the Middle Ages: a tentative list' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 143 p. 315
  • King, D.J.C. and Brooksby, H., 1980, 'Neath Castle' Programme of the 127th Annual Meeting, CAA p. 30-3
  • Phillips, C.T., 1977 '“Dig” at Neath Castle (1970-76)' Neath Antiquarian Society transactions p. 7-8
  • Brooksby, H., 1973, 'Neath Castle' Morgannwg Vol. 17 p. 62-4 online copy
  • Hogg, A.H.A. and King, D.J.C., 1967, 'Masonry castles in Wales and the Marches: a list' Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 116 p. 71-132
  • King, D.J.C. and Alcock, L., 1969, 'Ringworks in England and Wales' Château Gaillard Vol. 3 p. 90-127
  • 1966, Medieval Archaeology Vol. 10 p. 194 download copy
  • Johns, 1965, Archaeology in Wales Vol. 5 p. 28-30
  • (Johns), 1964, Medieval Archaeology Vol. 8 p. 262 download copy
  • 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
  • Brown, R, Allen, 1959, 'A List of Castles, 1154–1216' English Historical Review Vol. 74 p. 249-280 (Reprinted in Brown, R. Allen, 1989, Castles, conquest and charters: collected papers (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 90-121) view online copy (subscription required)
  • Francis, 1846, 'Original Charters and Materials for a History of Neath' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 3 p. 274-7 online copy

Primary Sources

  • Pipe Rolls 1182, 1184-5, 1207-8 (see Pipe Roll Society for references)
  • Giraldus Cambrensis, c.1183, Description of Wales view online transcription
  • Brut y Tywysogion 1231 (Several transcriptions and translations exist the best being Jones, T., 1952, Brut Y Twysogion (University of Wales, History and Law series 11)–based on the Peniarth MS 20 version. There is a flawed translation Williams ab Ithel, John, 1860, Brut Y Twysogion or The Chronicle of the Princes (Rolls Series) online copy)
  • Williams (ab Ithel), John, (ed), 1860, Annales Cambriae (444 – 1288) (London: Longman, Green, Longman, and Roberts)1231 online copy
  • Jones, T. (ed), 1948, 'Cronica de Wallia and other documents' Bulletin of the Board of Celtic Studies Vol. 12 p. 27-44 (1231)
  • Clark, G.T., 1910, Cartae et alia munimenta quae ad dominium de Glamorgancia pertinent Vol. 2 p. 303, 354, 532, 533 online copy ; Vol. 3 p. 859 [online copy > http://archive.org/stream/cartaeetaliamuni03claruoft#page/859/mode/1up]
  • 'Annales de Margam' in Luard, H.R (ed), 1857, Annales Monastici (Rolls Series 36) Vol. 1 p. 18 online copy
  • 'Annales de Theokesberia' in Luard, H.R (ed), 1857, Annales Monastici (Rolls Series 36) Vol. 1 p. 167 online copy
  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1895, Calendar of Close Rolls Edward II (1318-1323) Vol. 3 p. 542 view online copy (subscription required)
  • Nicolas, H. (ed), 1834, Proceedings and Ordinances of the Privy Council of England Vol. 1 p. 68 (1404 as tenable)
  • Rickard, John, 2002, The Castle Community. The Personnel of English and Welsh Castles, 1272-1422 (Boydell Press) (lists sources for 1272-1422) p. 210-1