The castle was built by Robert or his son William, of the FitzMartin family, at the end of the 11th century. These were the Normans settled in Somerset and Devon, who, wanting to expand their possessions, participated in the conquest of south-west Wales. After the Battle of Crug Mawr in 1136, during which the Welsh defeated the invaders, the FitzMartin family lost vast territories, including their Nevern castle. They moved to Newport, where the proximity of the sea made it possible to supply from England. This castle soon became their main stronghold in the region and was rebuilt into a stone one in the 13th century.
In 1215, Newport was captured by Llywelyn the Great, and in 1257 by Llywelyn the Last, but each time it was recaptured. In 1324, the castle was given to Lord Audley, who significantly rebuilt it. At the beginning of the 15th century it was seriously damaged during Owain Glyndŵr’s Welsh uprising. It was later temporarily owned by the Crown, when Lord Audley, James, was executed for treason. All of his lands were confiscated in 1497, but returned in 1534 to the son of James Audley.
In 1543, the castle was sold to William Owen of Henllys. According to descriptions of that time, it was still a strong and well-kept building at that time. In the following years it had to deteriorate, because in the engravings from the first half of the 17th century most of its buildings were already in ruins. In 1859, a private residence was built on the site of the castle, due to which, unfortunately, one of the towers of the gatehouse was demolished.
The castle was erected on a hill with a roughly circular top part. It received a quadrilateral plan with a single defensive wall surrounded by a moat. The gate was on the north side and consisted of a building with two horseshoe towers flanking the middle passage. Interestingly, the gate towers did not have the same dimensions, the western one was slightly larger (about 6.5 meters wide). The topography of the area in front of the gate indicates that it could have been preceded by a kind of foregate or barbican. The relatively vulnerable south-eastern side of the castle was protected by the so-called Great Tower of “D” shape with a four-sided base about 12 meters wide. Its ground floor with three loop holes and the passage to the latrine was accessible directly from the courtyard. In addition, next to it there was an entrance to a spiral staircase leading to the upper floors and to the wall-walk in the crown of the curtain. The tower was adjacent to a room sometimes considered as a chapel and an underground room with a vault supported by a single pillar. In addition, the perimeter of the walls was reinforced with two more corner towers: north-west and south-west one.
The remains of the castle now consist of a fragment of a defensive wall and relics of four towers, one of which is part of a modern, private residence. The medieval remnant is also a quadrilateral perimeter of the earth ramparts surrounded by a moat, some of which is use as a fish pond. The castle is now privately owned, but apparently, conservation works are underway, after which part of the monument will be made available for sightseeing.
Salter M., The castles of South-West Wales, Malvern 1996.
Website castlesfortsbattles.co.uk, Newport castle.
Website coflein.gov.uk, Newport castle, Pembrokeshire.