Coity – castle


   The castle was erected by the knight Payn de Turberville at the end of the 11th or the beginning of the 12th century during the penetration of south-eastern Wales by the Norman conquerors. Payn de Turberville was one of the twelve knights accompanying Earl of Gloucester, Robert Fitzhamon in his conquest of Welsh Glamorgan. Since he did not receive any territory from his senior in the lands seized from the Welsh, around 1092 he took matters into his own hands and conquered the lands around Coity. In the face of the attack, the then Welsh ruler, Morgan ap Meurig, not feeling strong enough to fight, offered to marry Norman’s daughter. Payn accepted the offer and became Lord of Coity.
Around 1180, the castle was rebuilt from timber to stone by another heir of Coity, Gilbert de Turberville. Over the next two centuries, during which the Turberville family remained the owners of Coity, the castle underwent further improvements and expansion. The Turbervill male’s line ended in 1384, as a result of which the lordship and the castle passed to Sir Lawrence Berkerolles. He made further modernization, thanks to which the stronghold resisted sieges during the Welsh rebellion of Owain Glyndŵr in 1404 and 1405. Despite the repel of the attackers, the castle was seriously damaged and remained in poor condition until Lawrence’s death in 1411. Ownership of the property then became the object of a dispute between the Margaret de Turberville daughter, Joan Verney and William Gamage, who gathered forces and besieged Joan for a month at Coity Castle. King Henry IV ordered the removal of the siege and imprisoned William in the Tower of London. He was released in 1413 after the death of the king, and eventually the castle passed into the hands of his family, who made repairs and reconstruction of the destroyed stronghold. In 1584, the castle passed into the hands of the Sydney family, when Barbara Gamage married Sir Robert Sydney, Earl of Leicester. The new owners, however, preferred to live in their estate in England, thus Coity deteriorated and eventually was abandoned. In the seventeenth century castle turned into ruin.


   The original castle from the 12th century was a timber construction, but due to the area characteristic, exceptionally for the early Norman castles, it did not have the motte and bailey form. A flat area with a thin layer of soil made it impossible to obtain enough material to build a mound (motte).
After 1180, a stone, four-sided keep was built and a defensive wall was erected on the oval plan, that closed the inner ward of the upper castle. Keep originally had two floors and a basement. The entrance led to it from the first floor level, although the portal on the ground floor was also pierced in the 14th century. From the west to the upper castle adjacent fortified outer bailey on a plan similar to a rectangle. The whole castle was surrounded by a moat, which also separated the outer from the inner ward.
In the first half of the 14th century, the outer bailey was reinforced with a stone defensive wall strengthened with four-sided towers and a gatehouse. A new gatehouse was also added at the entrance to the inner ward, and a four-sided turret with the latrine function was added to the northern wall of the keep. The rounded tower built on the south side served a similar purpose, providing latrines for a new, economically-residential range containing private rooms on the second floor, a hall on the second floor, and a kitchen on the ground floor. The communication was provided by a spiral staircase. In the keep, a central octagonal pillar was erected, which supported new vaults.

   After the destruction of the early fifteenth century, the northern wall of the upper castle (inner ward) required reconstruction. During this work, a new gatehouse and a chapel were erected. The gatehouse on the outer bailey also was rebuilt and a new tower was erected in the south-west corner. The southern tower was transformed into a gate and a new part of the wall was added to it, reaching the upper castle. At the same time, a large barn was built in the outer ward at the southern wall, which was reinforced with buttresses.
   In the 16th century, the Tudor style windows were rebuilt on the upper floor of the keep and in the southern range. Chimneys to higher storeys were also added and the kitchen was modernized. An additional floor was added to the keep and its northern annex.

Current state

   The castle has been preserved to modern times in the form of a ruin. In the best condition survived the northern gatehouse of the upper castle (inner ward), a lot has survived from the south range, two walls of the keep are also visible. There is a clear layout of the outer ward with a defensive wall practically on the entire length and relics of a large barn. The ruins of the castle are under the care of the Cadw government agency and are open to the public.

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Kenyon J., The medieval castles of Wales, Cardiff 2010.
Website, Coity Castle.