Pennard – castle


   In 1107, Norman lord Henry de Beaumont, Earl of Warwick, received from king Henry I, the authority on the Gower Peninsula. During this period, Wales consisted of independent principalities and kingdoms, often waging war with each other. Since there was no centrally coordinated Norman invasion of Wales, lords such as Henry de Beaumont were encouraged to conquer border land on their own. This strategy required a large number of castles to suppress resistance and strengthen governments in the newly conquered territories. One of the at least seven, that was then built on the peninsula, was the castle of Henry de Beaumont in Pennard.
In 1203, the lordship of Gower was granted by king John to the de Braose family. One of its members, William de Braose, at the end of the 13th century, rebuilt the castle into a stone building. Perhaps this was caused by the dispute that William then had with John de Monmouth, bishop of Llandaff, and the desire to strengthen his position.
In 1320, king Edward II, persuaded by his favorite Hugh Despenser the Younger, confiscated the castle and accused William of granting the castle to his son-in-law, John de Mowbray, without royal permission. Despenser was appointed the royal Castle Guardian, but after the fallen of Edward II, the castle was restored to de Braose and then handed over to the Beauchamp family. However, at this time Pennard began to feel the power of sand blown from the side of the coastal dunes. It eroded the castle walls, made agriculture impossible and made life difficult. This resulted in the abandonment of the castle and the nearby settlement in the first half of the 16th century.


   The original castle consisted of a ring of earth ramparts crowned with a timber palisade, surrounding the inner ward on which a small, stone hall was erected. The building had a rectangular shape and dimensions 18.6 by 7.6 meters. Natural, strong defense conditions were provided by the cliffs on the north and west side.
At the end of the 13th century, new defensive walls were erected from the local limestone and sandstone, which copied the earlier, wood-and-earth circuit. The wall was about 8 meters high and crowned with battlement. At that time, a gatehouse was added consisting of two horseshoe towers flanking the passage, preceded by a dry moat and a drawbridge. The entrance to the rooms on the gate’s floor led from the back of the towers. The first floor was entered through timber, external stairs. On the western side, the defensive circuit was strengthened by a four-sided tower and a small semicircular latrine turret. The four-sided tower had two floors and had residential functions.

Current state

   Fragments of a ruined defensive wall, relics of two western towers and the outer wall of a two-tower gatehouse have survived to the present. Entrance to the ruins is free.

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Kenyon J., The medieval castles of Wales, Cardiff 2010.
Website, Pennard castle.