Parc y Castell, St Davids

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Ringwork)

There are earthwork remains

NameParc y Castell, St Davids
Alternative NamesPenlan; Cairboias Castel
Historic CountryPembrokeshire
Modern AuthorityPembrokeshire
1974 AuthorityDyfed
CommunitySt Davids and the Cathedral Close

Parc-y-Castell is an embanked and ditched ringwork, about 40m by 32m internally, resting on natural valley scarps above the Afon Alun to the south-east, with a probable scarp-edge entrance to the north-east, showing a possible building platform within; a rectangular enclosure, 45m by 40m, banked and ditched, adjoins on the north-east. Thought to have been an early castle of the Bishop of St David's (OS record). Possibly related to linear earthwork (Nprn400105). (Coflein–ref. RCAHMW AP945017/46-8; 965017/44-5 J.Wiles 12.09.03)

Parc y Castell ring and bailey, St Davids. A medieval ringwork castle, with the remains of a rectangular outer bailey, survives in a concealed position on the north slopes of the River Alun, just west of St Davids, between the city and Porthclais harbour. Its origins are unclear and there is no recorded history, although some historians consider it may have been built by the bishops around 1115 to protect the early cathedral precinct from attack (RCAHMW, 2002-cs-0376). (Driver, T. 2007)

The remains of a motte and bailey earthwork castle surviving as a partial ringwork with a 45m. x 40m. rectangular bailey to the northeast. The scheduling description states that the motte survives as a well preserved bank and ditch forming a half circle on the western side. On the eastern and sides a steep natural slope completes the defences. The bailey only has a bank and ditch on the northwestern and northeastern sides, the rest of the defences being formed by the northeastern side of the ringwork and the natural slope. The Ordnance Survey description states that the entrance to the motte was on the eastern side and that a slight platform in the interior may have supported a building. (Dyfed Archaeological Trust HER)

The monument comprises the remains of a well preserved castle-ringwork, which dates to the early part of the medieval period (c. AD 1066 - 1485), located 0.8 km to the west of St David's cathedral

The well preserved bank and ditch form a half circle on the accessible more gently sloping west side, the well preserved bailey bank and ditch is likewise only present on the west. There is no bank and ditch on the east, where the steep drop to the River Alun was considered adequate protection. The ringwork castle may have been constructed by Bishop Bernard, who was appointed in 1115. However, by 1200 the castle had been superseded by the present Bishop's Palace beside the cathedral. (Scheduling Report)

A ringwork-and-bailey castle ('Parc-y-castell') was built on the west side of the valley, either by Norman King William I on his visit to the cathedral in 1081, or by Bishop Bernard (or one of his immediate successors). The castle appears to have been the early administrative centre of Pebidiog and the territorial see, until the construction of the Bishop's Palace at St David's in the late 12th-century, when it was probably abandoned. The mint which operated at St David's during the 1090s, on behalf of the crown, may have been located within the castle, suggesting an earlier, rather than a later date for its construction. (

Gatehouse Comments

Is half a mile from the Cathedral which suggests this was initially a royal castle built by William at a time when he was in one of his more conciliatory tempers and not wanting to over impose on the sitting bishop, whilst still establishing Norman royal power. The bishops moved their base to be beside the Cathedral quite quickly or it may be they always had their palace there.

- 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 ReferenceSM745251
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights ReservedView full Sized Image
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights ReservedView full Sized Image
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights ReservedView full Sized Image

Most of the sites or buildings recorded in this web site are NOT open to the public and permission to visit a site must always be sought from the landowner or tenant.

Calculate Print


  • Driver, T., 2007, Pembrokeshire, Historic Landscapes from the Air (RCAHMW) p. 103 Fig154
  • Hull, Lise, 2005, Castles and Bishops Palaces of Pembrokeshire (Logaston Press) p. 162
  • Pettifer, Adrian, 2000, Welsh Castles, A Guide by Counties (Boydell Press) p. 174
  • Davis, Paul, 2000, A Company of Forts. A Guide to the Medieval Castles of West Wales (Gomer Press) p. 38
  • Salter, Mike, 1996, The Castles of South West Wales (Malvern) p. 83
  • Miles, Dillwyn, 1979 (Revised 1988), Castles of Pembrokeshire (Pembrokeshire Coast National Park) p. 5-7
  • Davis, P.R., 1987, Castles of Dyfed (Llandysul: Gomer Press) p. 62
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 397
  • RCAHMW, 1925, An inventory of the Ancient Monuments of Pembrokeshire (HMSO) p. 326 no. 949 online copy
  • Laws, E. and Owen, H., 1908, Archaeological Survey of Pembrokeshire 1896-1907 (Tenby)
  • Laws, E , 1888, Little England Beyond Wales


  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1906, Leland's Itinerary in Wales  (Bell and Sons; London) p. 64 online copy


  • 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
  • King, D.J.C., 1962, The Archaeological Journal Vol. 117
  • Lloyd, J.E., 1938, Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 93
  • King, D.J.C., 1962, 'The Castles of Pembrokeshire' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 119 p. 313-6 online copy
  • Babington, C.C., 1876, 'On an ancient fort near St David's' Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 31 p. 49-53 online copy
  • Babington, C.C., 1852, 'On a Fort called Penlan, near St David's' Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 7 p. 25-6 online copy