Medieval castles in Wales

Manorbier Castle

Manorbier Castle  is a Norman castle founded in the late 11th century. The land was granted to Odo de Barri, a Norman knight. Initially, he constructed a motte-and-bailey castle on the site which had a wooden keep defended by a palisade and earthworks embankments. In the early part of the 12th century, William de Barri, Odo's son, used locally quarried Limestone to strengthen the fortification. In the castle's history, ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Manorbier, United Kingdom

Monmouth Castle

William FitzOsbern, Norman Count of William the Conqueror, established Monmouth Castle between 1066 and 1069 as a counterpart to his other major castle at Chepstow. It was originally an earth and timber ringwork fortress, which was listed in the Domesday Book. The wooden castle had stonework added before 1150. After briefly being held by Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester, Monmouth Castle passed into the hands of E ...
Founded: 1066-1069 | Location: Monmouth, United Kingdom

Cardigan Castle

Cardigan Castle overlooks the River Teifi in Cardigan, Wales. The first motte-and-bailey castle (ca. 1093) was built a mile away from the present site, probably about the time of the founding of the town by Roger de Montgomery, a Norman baron. The castle was later recaptured by the Normans, and was held for Earl Roger of Hertford. In 1166 it was captured by Rhys ap Gruffydd, who rebuilt it in stone in 1171. In 1176 the f ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Cardigan, United Kingdom

Skenfrith Castle

Skenfrith Castle was established by the Normans in the wake of the invasion of England in 1066, to protect the route from Wales to Hereford. Possibly commissioned by William fitz Osbern, the Earl of Hereford, the castle comprised earthworks with timber defences. In 1135, a major Welsh revolt took place and in response King Stephen brought together Skenfrith Castle and its sister fortifications of Grosmont and W ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Skenfrith, United Kingdom

Cilgerran Castle

Cilgerran Castle (Welsh: Castell Cilgerran) is a 13th-century ruined castle located in Cilgerran, near Cardigan. The first castle on the site was thought to have been built by Gerald of Windsor around 1110–1115, and it changed hands several times over the following century between English and Welsh forces. In the hands of William Marshal, 2nd Earl of Pembroke, the construction of the stone castle began after 1223. Af ...
Founded: 1223 | Location: Cardigan, United Kingdom

Tretower Castle

Tretower Castle is a Grade I-listed ruined castle in the village of Tretower. It was founded as a motte and bailey castle by Picard, a follower of Bernard de Neufmarché. Probably around 1150, Picard"s son, Roger Picard I, replaced the motte with a shell keep. By about 1230 a tall cylindrical keep was added to the inside of the shell keep, possibly by his great-grandson, Roger Picard II, and the space between was roo ...
Founded: c. 1150 | Location: Cwmdu, United Kingdom

Llandovery Castle

Llandovery Castle is a late thirteenth-century ruin which occupies a knoll overlooking the River Towy and the land surrounding it. The Normans built a castle in the current location in the early twelfth century and this was rebuilt in stone. It was burnt in the early sixteenth century and never repaired. A Norman knight, Richard Fitz Pons, received the lordship of Cantref Bychan in 1116 and he probably began construction ...
Founded: 1116 | Location: Llandovery, United Kingdom

Oystermouth Castle

The first Oystermouth castle was founded by William de Londres of Ogmore Castle soon after 1106 following the capture of Gower by the Normans. In 1116 the Welsh of Deheubarth retook the Gower Peninsula and forced William to flee his castle which was put to the torch. The castle was rebuilt soon afterwards, but was probably destroyed again in 1137 when Gower was once more retaken by the princes of Deheubarth. The ...
Founded: 1106 | Location: The Mumbles, United Kingdom

Usk Castle

Usk Castle is located immediately to the north of the present day town on a hill overlooking the streets and main Twyn square. The castle and town was probably laid out and established in 1120, after some of the other Norman settlements and castles of the region, such as Monmouth Castle and Abergavenny Castle. However, the site had a history of previous military, strategic, and local significance, for it was here t ...
Founded: c. 1120 | Location: Usk, United Kingdom

Brecon Castle

Brecon Castle was built by the Norman Lord Bernard de Neufmarché in 1093, and was frequently assaulted by the Welsh in 13th and 15th centuries. The castle"s ownership changed numerous times. It began falling into ruin when Henry VIII executed the last dukes of Buckingham, who at the time controlled the castle. It was renovated and made into a hotel in the early 19th century. Numerous renovations were carried ...
Founded: 1093 | Location: Brecon, United Kingdom

Coity Castle

Coity Castle in Glamorgan, Wales, is a Norman castle built by Sir Payn 'the Demon' de Turberville, one of the legendary Twelve Knights of Glamorgan supposed to have conquered Glamorgan under the leadership of Robert FitzHamon (d. 1107), Lord of Gloucester. The castle began as a late 11th-century ringwork. A rectangular stone keep and the main curtain wall were added by the Normans in the 12th century, under the de Turber ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Bridgend, United Kingdom

Dryslwyn Castle

Drysllwyn Castle stands on high ground overlooking the Tywi Valley with extensive views. It was built in about the 1220s by one of the princes of the kingdom of Deheubarth, and changed hands several times in the struggles between the Welsh and English over the ensuing centuries. It is considered one of the most important remaining structures built by a Welsh chieftain. Drysllwyn was seized by Owain Glyndŵr in the summer ...
Founded: 1220s | Location: Llandeilo, United Kingdom

Grosmont Castle

Grosmont Castle is a ruined castle in the village of Grosmont. The fortification was established by the Normans in the wake of the invasion of England in 1066, to protect the route from Wales to Hereford. Possibly commissioned by William fitz Osbern, the Earl of Hereford, it was originally an earthwork design with timber defences. In 1135, a major Welsh revolt took place, and in response King Stephen brought together Gros ...
Founded: 1219 | Location: Abergavenny, United Kingdom

Montgomery Castle

Montgomery Castle is one of many Norman castles on the border between Wales and England. The original motte and bailey is now known as Hen Domen and was built at the order of Roger de Montgomery, Earl of Shrewsbury, sometime between 1071 and 1074. After the rebellion of his son Robert of Belleme in 1102, the castle was given to Baldwin de Boulers. The de Boulers (later known as Bowdler) family held the castle until 1214, ...
Founded: 1071-1074 | Location: Montgomery, United Kingdom

Newcastle Emlyn Castle

Newcastle Emlyn Castle is a ruined castle strategically located on a steep-sided promontory overlooking the River Teifi. It was probably built by the Welsh lord Maredudd ap Rhys in about 1240. It changed hands many times over the years in battles between the Welsh and English, and during the English Civil War. The remains of the gatehouse and adjacent towers, and some fragments of wall are all that remain visible now. Th ...
Founded: c. 1240 | Location: Newcastle Emlyn, United Kingdom

Llansteffan Castle

Llansteffan Castle sits on a much older Iron Age promontory fort, proving Llansteffan has been inhabited for several millennia. The hill where the castle stands commands the River Tywi estuary. The hill would have been stripped of trees so that foot soldiers were vulnerable to attack by archers. The original earthworks can still be seen and were used as part of the modern castle"s defence system - the castle proper r ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Llansteffan, United Kingdom

Haverfordwest Castle

Haverfordwest Castle is located in a naturally defensive position at the end of a strong, isolated ridge. Pembrokeshire Records indicate that there was an Iron Age hill fort on the site of the castle although there is no physical evidence to suggest this on the present location. Haverfordwest was believed to have been a Danish settlement prior to the Norman conquest of West Wales in 1093/94. The Flemish settled in the ar ...
Founded: c. 1120 | Location: Haverfordwest, United Kingdom

St Donat's Castle

St Donat's Castle is a medieval castle in the Vale of Glamorgan, positioned on cliffs overlooking the Bristol Channel. The site has been occupied since the Iron Age, and was by tradition the home of the Celtic chieftain Caradog. The present castle's origins date from the 12th century when the de Haweys and later Peter de Stradling began its development. The Stradlings held the castle for four hundred years, until the deat ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: St Donats, United Kingdom

Dinefwr Castle

Dinefwr Castle lies on a ridge on the northern bank of the Tywi, with a steep drop of one hundred feet to the river. Dinefwr was the chief seat of the Kingdom of Deheubarth. The present castle is entered via a fortified entrance protected by a restored length of battlement. The short path from the car park gives an extensive view of the Towy valley. The door admits the visitor to the main space enclosed by the walls, ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Llandeilo, United Kingdom

Picton Castle

Picton Castle was originally built at the end of the 13th century by a Flemish knight. Later it was moved to the hands of the Wogan family. Picton Castle began as a motte castle and was reconstructed in stone by the Sir John Wogan between 1295 and 1308. The design was unusual, there being no courtyard internally, the main building being protected by seven circular towers which projected from the wall. At the east end, tw ...
Founded: 1295-1308 | Location: Haverfordwest, United Kingdom

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Late Baroque Town of Ragusa

The eight towns in south-eastern Sicily, including Ragusa, were all rebuilt after 1693 on or beside towns existing at the time of the earthquake which took place in that year. They represent a considerable collective undertaking, successfully carried out at a high level of architectural and artistic achievement. Keeping within the late Baroque style of the day, they also depict distinctive innovations in town planning and urban building. Together with seven other cities in the Val di Noto, it is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In 1693 Ragusa was devastated by a huge earthquake, which killed some 5,000 inhabitants. Following this catastrophe the city was largely rebuilt, and many Baroque buildings from this time remain in the city. Most of the population moved to a new settlement in the former district of Patro, calling this new municipality 'Ragusa Superiore' (Upper Ragusa) and the ancient city 'Ragusa Inferiore' (Lower Ragusa). The two cities remained separated until 1926, when they were fused together to become a provincial capital in 1927.