Page images



the probably Roman road which connected Gloucester with Carmarthen and beyond.1

The lands of Robert Fitz Hamon, in the next generation, passed into the hands of Robert, the great Earl of Gloucester, Henry I.'s illegitimate son. He was

a great castle-builder, and it is probable that the first masonry of Cardiff Castle was his work."

[ocr errors]

NEWCASTLE BRIDGEND.-This castle and the three which follow are all situated on or near the "Roman road from Cardiff to St David's, of which we have already spoken. There were two castles at Bridgend, the Old Castle and the New Castle, from which the town takes its name. The site of the former is now too much cut up for any definite conclusions about it; the site of the latter has been converted into market gardens, but a motte is still standing in one corner with the ruins of a tower upon it. [H. W.] This castle is not noticed either by the Brut or the Aberpergwm version; the earliest mention known to us is in the Pipe Roll of 1184, at a time when the castles of the Earl of Gloucester were in royal custody, and this appears to have been one of them.

KENFIG.-This castle is close to the "Roman" road. The Aberpergwm Brut says that it was one of the castles of Robert Fitz Hamon, and states that in 1092 it was rebuilt "stronger than ever before, for castles prior to that were built of wood." This is a good specimen of the mixture of truth and error to be found in this 16th century MS. There is little doubt that all the first

1 See "Cardiff Castle: its Roman Origin," by John Ward, Archæologia, lvii., 335.

2 Mr Clark thought the shell wall on the motte was Norman, and the tower Perp. But the wall of the shell has some undoubtedly Perp. windows. The Gwentian Chronicle says that Robert of Gloucester surrounded the town of Cardiff with a wall, anno IIII.

castles of the Normans in Wales were built of wood but it is extremely unlikely that any wooden keep was replaced by a stone one as early as 1092. The town and castle of Kenfig are now almost entirely buried in sand-drifts, but the top of the motte, with some fragments of masonry upon it, is still visible. [H. W.]1 The note in the Pipe Rolls of the repair of the palicium of this castle shows that the bailey wall at any rate was still of wood in 1183. Even as late as 1232 the keep was only defended by a ditch and hedge; yet it withstood an assault from Llywelyn ap Jorwerth. The bailey is said to contain II acres, a most unusual size. Kenfig was a borough in Norman times, and it is possible that this large bailey was the original borough, afterwards enlarged in medieval times. There is evidence that there were burgage tenements within the bailey.3

ABERAVON.-The Aberpergwm MS. says that Fitz Hamon gave Aberavon to the son of the Welsh traitor who had called him into Glamorgan. At a later period, however, we find it in Norman hands. The site of the castle has been entirely cleared away, but it had a motte, which is still remembered by the older inhabitants. [H. W.] It is not mentioned in the Brut before 1152, when it was attacked and burnt by Rhys ap Griffith.


*NEATH.-The site of the first castle of Neath was given by Richard de Granville, its owner, to the abbey of Neath, which he had founded. About the year 1111,


1 See Gray's Buried City of Kenfig, where there are interesting photographs. The remains appear to be those of a shell.

2 Annales de Margam, 1232.

3 Gray's Buried City of Kenfig, pp. 59, 150.

4 This information is confirmed by Mr Tennant, town clerk of Aberavon. 5 See Francis' Neath and its Abbey, where the charter of De Granville is given. It is only preserved in an Inspeximus of 1468.



according to the Aberpergwm Brut, Richard returned from the Holy Land, bringing with him a Syrian architect, well skilled in the building of monasteries, churches, and castles, and by him we may presume, a new castle was built on the other side of the river, though the present castle on that site is clearly of much later date. The monks of course destroyed all vestiges of the first (probably wooden) castle.

*REMMI, or Remni.-Of this castle there is only one solitary mention, in the Pipe Roll of 1184. The name

to indicate the river Rhymney, which is the boundary between Glamorgan and Monmouth. We are unable to find any castle site so near the Rhymney as Ruperra, where Clark mentions a fine motte.1 But we do not venture on this identification without further information.2


SWANSEA, or Abertawy.-This was the castle of Henry Beaumont, the conqueror of Gower. The present castle is comparatively modern. It is inside the town; but there used to be a moated mound outside the town, which was only removed in 1804. It seems probable to us that this was the original castle of Beaumont. That this first castle had a


1 M. M. A., i., 112.

motte is

2 Ruperra is not quite one mile from the river Rhymney. There is another site which may possibly be that of Castle Remni: Castleton, which is nearly 2 miles from the river, but is on the main road from Cardiff to Newport. "It was formerly a place of strength and was probably built or occupied by the Normans for the purpose of retaining their conquest of Wentlwg. The only remains are a barrow in the garden of Mr Philipps, which is supposed to have been the site of the citadel, and a stone barn, once a chapel." Coxe's Monmouthshire, i., 63.

3 It is right to say that Colonel Morgan in his admirable Survey of East Gower (a model of what an antiquarian survey ought to be) does not con

suggested by the narrative in the Brut which tells how Griffith ap Rhys burnt the outworks in 1115, but was unable to get at the tower.1

*LOUGHOR, Or Aberllychor (Fig. 43).—Also built by Henry Beaumont. The mound of the castle still remains, with a small square keep on top. There was formerly a shell wall also. The place of a bailey was supplied by a terrace 15 feet wide. The four castles last mentioned are all at the mouths of rivers, as well as on an ancient (if not Roman) coast road.


*LLANDEILO TALYBONT, or Castell Hu. - Only mentioned once in the Brut, under 1215, as the castle of Hugh de Miles. A moated mound with a square bailey and no masonry still remains. It commands the river Loughor, which is still navigable up to that point at high tides. On the opposite side of the river is another motte and bailey, called Ystum Enlle. Possibly there was a ford or ferry at this point, which these castles were placed to defend.5


OYSTERMOUTH, a corruption of Ystum Llwynarth.— First mentioned in the older Brut in 1215, when it was burnt by Rhys Grug. The later version says it was built by Beaumont in 1099. The castle stands on a natural height, fortified artificially by a motte, which is of great size. There is a small bailey below to the N.E., and a curious small oval embankment thrown out in the rear of the castle towards the N.W. The

nect this mound with the old castle which is mentioned, as well as the new castle, in Cromwell's Survey of Gower. But even the old castle seems to have been Edwardian (see the plan, p. 85), so it is quite possible there were three successive castles in Swansea.

1 Brut, 1113.

2 Morgan's Survey of East Gower, p. 24.

3 Colonel Morgan's Survey of East Gower.

4 Lewis's Topographical Dictionary.

5 The passage of the river Lune in Lancashire is similarly defended by the mottes of Melling and Arkholme.



architecture of this magnificent castle is all of the Edwardian style, and as the castle was burnt down by Rhys ap Meredith in 1287, it is probable that only wooden structures stood on this site until after that date. The castle is in a fine situation overlooking the Bay of Swansea. [H. W.]

We have now completed our list of the Norman castles built in Wales which are known to history. It must not be supposed, however, that we imagine this to be a complete list of all the Norman castles which were ever erected in Wales. The fact that several in our catalogue are only once mentioned in the records makes it probable that there were many others which have never been mentioned at all. In this way we may account for the many mottes which remain in Wales about which history is entirely silent. As there was scarcely a corner in Wales into which the Normans did not penetrate at some time or other, it is not surprising if we find them in districts which are generally reckoned to be entirely Welsh. But there is another way of accounting for them; some of them may have been built by the Welsh themselves, in imitation of the Normans. As the feudal system and feudal ideas penetrated more and more into Wales, and the Welsh princes themselves became feudal homagers of the kings of England, it was natural that the feudal castle should also become a Welsh institution, especially as it was soon found to be a great addition to the chieftain's personal strength. The following castles are stated in the Brut to have been built by the Welsh.1

1113. *CYMMER, in Merioneth.-Built by Uchtred ap 1 The dates given are those of the Brut, and probably two years too early.

« PreviousContinue »