Pennard Castle

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

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NamePennard Castle
Alternative NamesPenard; Penarth; Pen arth
Historic CountryGlamorgan
Modern AuthoritySwansea
1974 AuthorityWest Glamorgan
CommunityPennard

The remains of a stone castle built in the late 13th/early 14th century. Alcock excavated in 1960, discovering an earlier earth and timber castle, possibly built in the early 12th century. A bank and ditch protected the open sides to the east, south and west, with a timber hall inside. The hall was later rebuilt in stone, the low remains of can still be seen measuring 18.6m x 7.6m, with walls 0.7m thick. The masonry curtain wall was later inserted into the bank, 1.1m thick, at most c7.5m high, surviving on the north, east and west sides, only a small section remains upstanding to the south. The wall was built of sandstone around the base, then two different types of limestone further up, a rampart walk would probably have been supplemented with a wooden platform. The gatehouse survives on the eastern side, with one sandstone built square western tower and a half round mural turret at the northwest angle, which appear to have been added at a later date. The entrance was defended by two towers, a portcullis and possibly even a drawbridge. This gatehouse, considerably altered at an early date, would have contained several rooms. The south tower possibly contained a prison, the north tower a guardroom. Apparently spanning the entranceway and the two flanking towers was a subdivided room with plastered walls, probably belonging to the governor. Extra accommodation would probably have been provided in lean-to's against the curtain wall, by the entranceway and in the walls of the western tower several square holes can be seen in the walls which may have held these lean-to's. Repair work carried out during the 20th century can be seen in the large patches of concrete around the masonry. The castle would have acted as the administrative and defensive centre of the lords manor, housing at times the lords of Gower.

The remains of St Mary's church, probably of 13th century origin, can still be seen nearby, associated with this church was a nearby holy well

The remains of a medieval village also lie nearby. In the early 1980's excavation revealed the remains of one of the buildings c5m by 3m, 90m NE of the castle, interpreted as a peasants Croft, with walls of wattle and daub and probably a thatched roof. Finds included 12th-13th century pottery, earlier occupation layers remain undated. This area was abandoned due to encroaching sand dunes, in existence by the early 14th century but it does not appear that the area was completely abandoned until the early 16th century, although the castle was apparently abandoned towards the end of the 14th century, little remaining by the time of the Cromwellian survey in 1650 which states "there remayneth Scittuac~on of the Castle of Pennard, Desolate and ruinous, and soe long time unrepayred that scarsely there remayneth one whole wall". (Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust HER–ref Poucher, 2002)

Dramatically sited on the cliff overlooking Pennard Pill and Threecliff Bay and on the W edge of Pennard golf course.

Pennard was a demesne manor of the lords of Gower, and the first defensive work on the site was a ringwork of the C12. A small settlement with church grew up adjacent to the castle. A detached stone hall was built inside this ringwork in the C13, as revealed by excavations. The curtain wall and gatehouse were rebuilt in stone in the late C13 or early C14. The comparatively flimsy walling and light defences suggest it was built when the threat of Welsh wars had receded, while its gatehouse is a copy of substantial Edwardian gatehouses such as Caerphilly. During the C14 the court of the lordship was occasionally held at Pennard rather than Swansea. The settlement and church suffered the encroachment of sand dunes from the C14 and the settlement and church were rebuilt further inland. The castle was described as 'desolate and ruinous' in 1650, although an engraving of 1741 by the Buck brothers shows most of the walls standing to their full height.

Ruined castle of rubble stone walls, of which only the curtain wall and gatehouse survive in part. The E gatehouse has a segmental arch to the main doorway with a segmental-headed window above it. It is flanked by 2-stage half-round towers, which are battered at the base. The S tower is less well preserved and is partly reconstructed and supported with concrete underpinning and cement render. It has a first-floor arrow slit facing the entrance, and the partial survival of 2 merlons of the battlements. The N tower has an arrow slit in the lower storey, and a similar arrow slit facing inwards above it. The curtain wall N of the gatehouse is set back at an angle and has a tall, narrow, flat-headed window. The N wall has numerous putlogs, above which is a row of similar sockets that were used to drain the wall walk. At the W end is a shallow garderobe projection, although the wall is now breached here. The NW angle has a half-round turret, its wall partly fallen away facing the steep cliff. Inside the gatehouse, the N tower has wide embrasures and segmental rere arches to the windows, and a further arrow slit facing the gateway, its rere arch now missing. An inset band defines the level of first-floor beams. The rear of the tower is square and wider than the half-round front, resulting in an irregular plan. Of the narrower S tower little is now visible above ground level. The first-floor arrow slit has a concrete lintel in place of the rere arch. Of the curtain wall on the N side, the face of the wall is partly missing and no wall walk is now visible. The NW turret has, in its W wall, the embrasure of a former window, its rere arch now missing. Against the exterior of the W curtain wall is a tower added after defence ceased to be the principal purpose of the castle. The opening in the curtain wall was previously breached and is infilled with modern blockwork incorporating a doorway. Inside the tower are the raked sills and embrasures of W and S windows, and numerous putlogs. A detached curved section of the S curtain wall also survives. (Listed Building Report)

In the early C12 Henry de Beaumont, first earl of Warwick, was granted the lordship of Gower, and it was probably he who built the ringwork castle here. It had a bank and ditch around it, and a primitive stone hall. The only traces of this early castle are the footings of the hall at the west end of the courtyard, which was probably added to the ringwork in the early C13. In the late C13 or early C14 the castle was rebuilt in stone, using local limestone and reddish sandstone, and the present-day ruins are the remains of this castle. It was probably the work of the de Braoses, who held the castle for a while in C13. The castle is small and rather crudely built. Curtain walled and towered, generally oval enclosure, 36m E-W by 28m, resting on crags to the N, having a twin-towered gateway facing E, with further towers on the W and a rectangular internal structure. (Whittle)

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 ReferenceSS544885
Latitude51.5765190124512
Longitude-4.10226011276245
Eastings254420
Northings188500
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Books

  • Kenyon, John, 2010, The Medieval Castles of Wales (University of Wales Press) p. 133
  • Morgan, Gerald, 2008, Castles in Wales: A Handbook (Talybont: Y Lolfa Cyf.) p. 145 (brief)
  • Pettifer, Adrian, 2000, Welsh Castles, A Guide by Counties (Boydell Press) p. 104-5
  • Reid, Alan, 1998, Castles of Wales (John Jones Publishing) p. 117-8
  • Newman, J., 1995, Buildings of Wales: Glamorgan (Yale University Press) p. 506
  • Higham, R. and Barker, P., 1992, Timber Castles (Batsford)
  • Whittle, E., 1992, A Guide to Ancient and Historic Wales, Glamorgan and Gwent (London: Cadw HMSO)
  • < >RCAHMW, 1991, An Inventory of the Ancient Monuments in Glamorgan Vol. 3 Part 1a: The Early Castles (London: HMSO) < > MR6 p. 288-96
  • Salter, Mike, 1991, The Castles of Gwent, Glamorgan and Gower (Malvern) p. 68
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 167
  • Davis, Paul R., 1983, Castles of Glamorgan (Alun Books) p. 10-1
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 373
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 273, 275
  • Hague, D.B., 1971, in Pugh, T.B. (ed), Glamorgan County History Vol. 3 The Middle Ages (Cardiff) p. 444
  • Grenfell, Harold E. and Morris, Bernard, 1970 (Revised 1985) The Castles of Gower (Merthyr Tydfil) p. 7, 14
  • Oman, Charles W.C., 1926, Castles (1978 edn Beetham House: New York) p. 185 (misleading)
  • Morgan, W.Ll., 1899, An Antiquarian Survey of East Gower (London) p. 205-11
  • Lewis, Samual, 1849, A Topographical Dictionary of Wales online copy [online copy > http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.asp?compid=47877#s7]
  • Buck, Samuel and Nathenial, 1774, Buck’s Antiquities (London) Vol. 2 p. 407

Journals

  • Morris, B., 1987, 'Pennard Castle: the last two hundred years' Gower Vol. 38 p. 6-15 online copy
  • Davis, P.R., 1986, 'Legend of the ruined castle on the rock' Country Quest Vol. 27.4 p. 5-6
  • 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
  • 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 (possible–on earlier ring work?)
  • 1962-3, Medieval Archaeology Vol. 6-7 p. 326 download copy
  • Alcock, L., 1961, 'Recent archaeological excavation and discovery in Glamorgan' Morgannwg Vol. 5 p. 81-2 (interim excavation report) online copy
  • Alcock, L., 1960, 'Recent archaeological excavation and discovery in Glamorgan' Morgannwg Vol. 4 p. 69-70 online copy
  • Clark, 1869, The Builder Vol. 27 p. 689-690

Primary Sources

  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1904, Calendar of Patent Rolls Edward II (1321-24) Vol. 4 p. 176 online copy
  • Rickard, John, 2002, The Castle Community. The Personnel of English and Welsh Castles, 1272-1422 (Boydell Press) (lists sources for 1272-1422) p. 212

Other

  • Poucher, P., 2002-03, Archaeological Survey: Pennard and Bishopston (National Trust SMR Report 1274)