Morgraig Castle was built between 1243 and 1267 by the Anglo-Norman lords of the de Clare family from Glamorgan or the Welsh lords of Senghennydd. Relations between these families were peaceful until the Second War of the Barons of 1264-1267, which was a civil war in England between the lords under the leadership of Simon de Montfort and supporters of king Henry III. Initially, de Clare and lord Senghenydd were allies, but in 1266, after lord Senghenydd and Welsh ruler Llywelyn ap Gruffudd got engaged with Simon de Montfort, Gilbert de Clare imprisoned lord Senghenydd. In 1257, the de Clare family temporarily lost control of the lands near the castle of Morgraig, when Llywelyn ap Gruffudd destroyed their castle in Llangynwyd. Senghennydd would then be able to get the stone needed to build the castle. It was the so-called Sutton stone, obtained from the only quarry near Ogmore by Sea. Gilbert de Clare responded by starting the construction of the larger castle of Caerphilly in 1268. The unfinished Morgraig castle might have been abandoned at this moment, either by Senghennydd in retreat or by Gilbert de Clare, because it no longer had a strategic importance for him, and most of the resources were used at Caerphilly’s castle.
The castle was planned as a hexagonal building with a inner ward diameter of 38-42 meters. The circumference of the defense walls was strengthened by five towers, including four semi-circular and one four-sided. The latter may have had the form of a keep. In one of towers traces of a spiral staircase were found.
The plan of the castle does not allow to clearly specify the builder. The system of corner flanking towers is a 13th-century novelty tied with Anglo-Normans, while the very simple archaic gate and the horseshoe (D-shape) form of the towers suggests Welsh builders rather. Whoever started the construction of the castle, most likely never finished it, as no building materials from roofs or internal buildings were found in the fortress. Also, work on digging the moat or ditch has not started.
The castle has not survived to modern times. Only densely overgrown foundation and ground parts are visible, discovered during archaeological works in 1903. Admission to ruin’s area is public.
Davis P.R., Castles of the Welsh Princes, Talybont 2011.
Website castlewales.com, Castell Morgraig.
Website wikipedia.org, Morgraig Castle.