Newcastle in Bridgend was built in 1106, according to tradition by William de Londres, one of the semi-legendary Twelve Knights of Glamorgan, as part of the Norman invasion of Wales. William de Londres was a knight loyal to the Norman baron Robert Fitzhamon, and Newcastle was the westernmost part of the area subordinated to Fitzhamon. Along with the Bridgend Castle, the strongholds at Coity and Ogmore were erected at that time.
The fortifications were reinforced by William Fitz Robert, the second Earl of Gloucester, shortly before his death in 1183 or by king Henry II, who took power over Glamorgan after William’s death. The main reason for this work was the uprising in Glamorgan under the leadership of the Welsh Lord of Afan, Morgan ap Caradog.
Henryk died in 1189, and the ownership of Newcastle went to prince John, who in the same year handed over the castle to Morgan ap Caradog. When Morgan died around 1208, his son Lleison became his successor. After the death of Lleison, which took place around 1214, the castle became the property of Isabel, Countess of Gloucester, the first wife of king John. In 1217, the belonging of the castle changed again, staying briefly at Anglo-Norman baron Gilbert Fitz Richard, who in the same year donated the castle to Gilbert de Turberville. However, he preferred to live in Coity castle. Later, the stronghold fell to the Berkerolle and Gamage families, but no major work was undertaken until the 16th century, when the castle was slightly rebuilt in order to improve the comfort of residents. Despite the modernization, the building ceased to be a residence at the end of the sixteenth century and gradually began to fall into ruin.
The original castle consisted only of a ring of wood-earth fortifications (ringwork), surrounding the inner ward of about 40 meters in diameter. In the second half of the 12th century, a keep on the north side was added, a perimeter wall and two square towers strengthening it, which were new thing then in those areas. The entrance to the castle was through a romanesque portal, distinguished by high quality stonework. It was flanked by one of the square towers. This southern tower was rebuilt for residential purposes in the 16th century, when new windows and Tudor style fireplaces were made. To the east of the entrance gate was also built the great hall, and further to the north building of undetermined dating. The whole castle was protected by a natural slope in the east and a moat from the other sides.
The castle has been preserved in the form of a low ruin, however, most of the monument that has survived to this day comes from the early, Norman period of the castle’s history. There is a portal of the entrance gate, one of the most beautiful monuments of secular Norman architecture in Wales. The south tower has survived to the height of the first floor, although the windows and the fireplace in the ground floor date back to the 16th century, but the first floor has a fireplace from the Middle Ages. The western tower has been preserved only in the part of the ground. Newcastle is under the care of the Cadw government agency and is open to tourists, free of charge throughout the year.
Kenyon J., The medieval castles of Wales, Cardiff 2010.
Website castlesfortsbattles.co.uk, Newcastle castle (Bridgend).