Wiston Castle

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

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameWiston Castle
Alternative NamesGwys; Wiz; Wizton; Wizos Castle; Castell Gwis
Historic CountryPembrokeshire
Modern AuthorityPembrokeshire
1974 AuthorityDyfed
CommunityWiston

The existing remains comprise a mound crowned by the ruins of a stone keep which was surrounded by a bailey. The mound rises to a height of some 40 feet, with a base circumference of about 550 feet. The summit is level, 45 to 50 feet in diameter. The masonry shows walls from 3 feet to 4 feet in height, and the jambs of a portal having a width of 5 feet. Surrounding the mound is a well-preserved ditch, 10 feet in depth. The bailey is in form an oblong, protected by a 4 feet rampart and a 3 feet ditch; its length from north to south is 450 feet, and from east to west 550 feet. The bailey court is locally known as ' the Conegar ' (Tithe Schedule, No. 647). The house to the east of the bailey has succeeded the manor house which took the place of the castle. The whole site should receive careful excavation. Wiston, the chief fortalice of Wizo the Fleming, is first mentioned in history as ' Castellum Wiz,' (Annales Cambriae MS.B, s.a. 1148; Brut y Tywysogion has ' castell gwiss '). In 1130 ' Walterus filius Witsonis ' was in possession of his father's lands, and ' Aluredus filius Wihenoc' was married to the widow of 'Witsonis Flandrensis' and had obtained her dower (Pipe Roll, 31 Hen. I, 136). In 1147 from Walter fitz Wizo the castle passed to William fitz Gerald and his Welsh allies Cadell, Maredudd, Rhys, and Hywel ap Owain. In 1193 Hywel Sais surprised and took Wiston, and with it its lord, Philip fitz Wizo, with his family. On Whitsunday, 1195, the Flemings re-captured Wiston, and so restored the cantred of Daugleddau to its former holders. Early in September, 1220, Llywelyn ap Iorwerth destroyed Wiston, and mercilessly ravaged the cantred of Rhos (Lloyd, Hist. Wales, vol. ii, var. pp.). After this date there is no historical notice of the castle, which became for some centuries the residence of a branch of the Wogans. On the extinction of that family it was sold to the earl of Cawdor

(RCAHMW, 1925)

Whiston Castle is initially mentioned in 1147 and was reported as destroyed in 1220. The surviving remains include an oval banked and ditched enclosure, about 130m east-west by 90m, with a roughly 50m diameter, 7.0m high ditched motte, crowned by the ruins of a shell keep. The keep cuts through, or overlies, the circuit on the north. Consolidation of the motte in 1994 involved limited excavation (Murphy 1997). An earlier origin has been suggested for the enclosure (CADW guide) and excavations about 100m to the south-west produced some Romano-British material. (Coflein)

In a prominent position near the centre of Wiston some 200m N of the Church of Saint Mary.

Stone castle of c. 1200 built on earlier large earth motte, set within Iron Age enclosure. The castle was probably first built before 1112 as a defended motte by Wizo the Fleming who died before 1130. Captured by Welsh forces led by the sons of Gruffydd ap Rhys ap Tewdwr and Hywel ab Owain Gwynedd in alliance with the Norman lord WilliamfitzGerald in 1147. In 1193 Wizo's grandson, Philip de Gwys and his sons were captured by Hywel Sais, son of the Lord Rhys, and in 1220 the castle was destroyed and the borough burnt by Llywelyn the Great. The de Gwys heiress married Gwgan, the first of the Wogans of Wiston, who held the manor until 1794. It is uncertain whether the castle was rebuilt after 1220, though the local people were told to help William Marshal, Earl of Pembroke to do so, the last mention of the castle is in 1231. The stone shell keep may date from after 1195 or possibly after 1220. It remains one of the best examples of a shell keep in Wales. It stands in a large oval bailey with a well-preserved bank that crosses the ditch to abut the mound on W and E. Ditches survive on the NW and NE sides. Entrance on the E with outer earthwork. Used in the Civil War as a Royalist outpost in 1643, abandoned after the Royalist defeat nearby at Colby Moor in 1644. Wiston is remarkable as having been set up before 1112 as a borough, part of the colonisation promoted by Henry I. The borough, although wholly vanished by the C16, retained mayor and burgesses and the right to vote in elections until the reforms of the early C19.

Ruins of a shell keep on a 9-metre high earth motte surrounded by a ditch. Motte has added flight of some 50 steps up to the rubble stone circular shell keep on the 18-metre diameter platform. The encircling wall is destroyed to the N, circular within but 16 or 18-sided polygon on the outside. Walls sloped outward. Damaged arched S entry with stone voussoirs and draw-bar holes. The wall varies from 1.5 to 2 metres and from 3 to 4 metres height, originally higher. Stone steps within the entry to right. (Listed Building Report)

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

This is a Grade 1 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 ReferenceSN022181
Latitude51.8271408081055
Longitude-4.87094020843506
Eastings202250
Northings218150
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
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Books

  • Higham, Robert, 2015, Shell-keeps re-visited: the bailey on the motte? (Castle Studies Group - online publication) online copy
  • Kenyon, John, 2010, The Medieval Castles of Wales (University of Wales Press) p. 95
  • Purton, P.F., 2009, A History of the Early Medieval Siege c. 450-1220 (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press) p. 274
  • Morgan, Gerald, 2008, Castles in Wales: A Handbook (Talybont: Y Lolfa Cyf.) p. 222-3
  • Hull, Lise, 2005, Castles and Bishops Palaces of Pembrokeshire (Logaston Press) p. 218-21
  • Lloyd, Orbach & Scourfield, 2004, Buildings of Wales: Pembrokeshire (Yale University Press) p. 495
  • Jones, Francis, 2001, Historic Houses of Pembrokeshire (Brawdy Books) p. 336-8
  • Pettifer, Adrian, 2000, Welsh Castles, A Guide by Counties (Boydell Press) p. 177
  • Davis, Paul, 2000, A Company of Forts. A Guide to the Medieval Castles of West Wales (Gomer Press) p. 111-3
  • Reid, Alan, 1998, Castles of Wales (John Jones Publishing) p. 138
  • Salter, Mike, 1996, The Castles of South West Wales (Malvern) p. 85
  • Miles, Dillwyn, 1979 (Revised 1988), Castles of Pembrokeshire (Pembrokeshire Coast National Park) p. 36
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 398
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles)
  • Stickings, T.G., 1973, Castles and Strongholds of Pembrokeshire (Tenby) p. 77-81
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 383
  • RCAHMW, 1925, An inventory of the Ancient Monuments of Pembrokeshire (HMSO) p. 418 no. 1194 online copy
  • Armitage, Ella, 1912, The Early Norman Castles of the British Isles (London: John Murray) p. 279 online copy
  • Edwards, Emily Hewlett, 1909, Castles and Strongholds of Pembrokeshire (Tenby) p. 43 online copy
  • Lewis, Samual, 1849, A Topographical Dictionary of Wales online copy
  • Fenton, R., 1811, A historical tour through Pembrokeshire (Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme & co.) p. 321- online copy

Journals

  • Kenyon, John R., 1996, 'Fluctuating Frontiers: Normanno-Welsh Castle Warfare c. 1075 to 1240' Château Gaillard Vol. 17 p. 119-126
  • Murphy, K. 1995, ‘The castle and borough of Wiston, Pembokeshire’, Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 144 p. 71-102
  • King, D.J.C., 1976, ‘Wiston Castle’, The 123rd Annual Meeting in South Pembrokeshire, 1976, CAA p. 38-9
  • 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
  • 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 Castles of Pembrokeshire' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 119 p. 313-6 online copy
  • King, D.J.C., 1962, 'Wiston Castle' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 119 p. 326, 328 online copy
  • 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)
  • Laws, 1898, Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 53 p. 269-70 (history) online copy

Guide Books

  • Rick Turner, 1996, Wiston Castle (Cardiff: CADW)

Primary Sources

  • Brut y Tywysogion 1147, 1193, 1220 (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)1195, 1220 online copy
  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1901, Calendar of Patent Rolls Henry III (1216-25) Vol. 1 p. 255 online copy