Medieval castles in Wales

Pennard Castle

Pennard Castle is a ruined castle, near the modern village of Pennard on the Gower Peninsula. The castle was built in the early 12th century as a timber ringwork following the Norman invasion of Wales. The walls were rebuilt in stone by the Braose family at the turn of the 13th and 14th centuries, including a stone gatehouse. Soon afterwards, however, encroaching sand dunes caused the site to be abandoned and it fell into ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Gower Peninsula, United Kingdom

Llawhaden Castle

A motte-and-bailey castle is thought to have previously occupied the site  of Llawhaden Castle and the present structure was built by the bishops of the Diocese of St David in the 13th century. The castle was abandoned in the 16th century and some of the stone was removed for local building projects. The site is privately owned by the Lord of the Manor of Llawhaden and managed by Cadw. The remaining ruins date from the ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Llawhaden, United Kingdom

St Quintins Castle

St Quintins Castle site was first occupied with a defensive structure in about 1102 and the gatehouse and further building work took place around 1312. It was later used as a prison and was reported as being in a ruinous state by 1741. Around 1102 Robert Fitzhamon, the first Norman Lord of Glamorgan bequeathed the lands of Llanblethian as a lordship to Herbert de St Quentin who is thought to have built the first fortific ...
Founded: 1102 | Location: Cowbridge, United Kingdom

Fonmon Castle

Fonmon Castle is a fortified medieval castle near the village of Fonmon in the Vale of Glamorgan. With its origins rooted in the 12th century it is today seen as a great architectural rarity, as it is one of few buildings that was drastically remodeled in the 18th century, but not Gothicized. The castle is believed to have remained under the ownership of just two families throughout its history; from Norman times, it was ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Barry, United Kingdom

Neath Castle

The first castle in Neath was located west of the river near the Roman fort of Nidum, and was a timber fortification in a motte and bailey structure. When Richard de Grenville founded Neath Abbey close by, he abandoned this original castle, and it may have been used by the monks as a source of building material. A second castle on the opposite bank of the river, in what is now the centre of the town, is first documented ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Neath, United Kingdom

Narberth Castle

Narberth Castle is a ruined Norman fortress in the town of Narberth. The current ruins are undoubtedly Norman and seem to date from the 13th century, having been built by Andrew Perrot. However the castle is mentioned in the third branch of the Mabinogi as the place where Rhiannon was imprisoned and forced to carry travellers through the gates as penance for killing her son. Although there is some controversy over the act ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Narberth, United Kingdom

Barry Castle

Barry Castle was a fortified manor house built on the site of an earlier Norman structure. It was raised by the powerful de Barry family, who played an important role in both the conquest of South Wales and Ireland. The structure was ruinous by the sixteenth century. By the late 13th century the castle had two stone buildings on the east and west sides of a courtyard, but nothing now remains of these above ground. Early ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Barry, United Kingdom

Wiston Castle

Wiston Castle is a motte and bailey castle in the Pembrokeshire village of Wiston. The castle and village were founded by Wizo, a Flemish settler who was granted the land by Henry I of England after he had wrested control from the previous owner, Arnulf de Montgomery (who was in revolt against Henry). The castle was captured by the Welsh on several occasions but on each occasion it was retaken. It was abandoned during the ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Wiston, United Kingdom

Roch Castle

Roch Castle was built by Norman knight Adam de Rupe in the second half of the 12th century, probably on the site of an earlier wooden structure. After the deRupe family died out in the 15th century, the Castle was taken over eventually in the 17th century by the Walter family. Their daughter Lucy was born in the castle, and later became a courtesan of Charles II, and bore him an acknowledged son James, 1st Duke of Mon ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Haverfordwest, United Kingdom

Pencoed Castle

The moat and round tower of Pencoed Castle may date from 1270 by Sir Richard de la More. It passed to the Morgans of Tredegar in the 15th century and a big new mansion on the east side and the gatehouse on the west side were built by Sir Thomas Morgan in c. 1490-1500. The gatehouse and corner tower are ruined and the mansion lies in a gutted and derelict state, though still with some flooring and the roof more or less int ...
Founded: 1490-1500 | Location: Newport, United Kingdom

Dale Castle

Dale Castle is a 13th-century castle located close to the village of Dale in Wales. In 1910, part of the castle was removed and other parts were incorporated into a new private dwelling house, built in the style of a fortified manor house. Built after the Norman invasion of South Wales, the castle was originally built by the de Vales, descendants of a knight who had accompanied Robert fitz Martin on his invasion of ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Dale, United Kingdom

Penrice Castle

Penrice Castle is the 13th-century successor to a strong ringwork. It was built by the de Penrice family, who were given land there for their part in the Norman conquest of Gower. The last de Penrice married a Mansel in 1410 and the castle and its lands passed to the Mansel family. The Mansels later bought Margam Abbey and made it their main seat, while retaining their Gower lands. The castle was damaged in the 17th-centu ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Gower Peninsula, United Kingdom

Cresswell Castle

Cresswell Castle is a castle half a mile north of the village of Cresswell Quay. It is situated on the banks of the River Cresswell in what is currently private land. The buildings were originally a 13th-century stone fortified manorial complex, founded by the Augustinian Priory of Haverfordwest. Cresswell Castle is thought to date back to the thirteenth century but has seen many alterations since, particularly in the si ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Jeffreyston, United Kingdom

Benton Castle

Benton Castle is a small fortification in the community of Burton, Pembrokeshire, now in use as a private house, in a wooded area overlooking the Cleddau river. The castle was probably built in the 13th century, one of a number of castles protecting the boundaries of the ancient Hundred of Rhos. Its origins are obscure, but in the 14th century it was held by Thomas de Roche, Lord of Llangwm. A 1583 map of Pembrokeshire s ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Burton, United Kingdom

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Veste Coburg

The Veste Coburg is one of Germany's largest castles. The hill on which the fortress stands was inhabited from the Neolithic to the early Middle Ages according to the results of excavations. The first documentary mention of Coburg occurs in 1056, in a gift by Richeza of Lotharingia. Richeza gave her properties to Anno II, Archbishop of Cologne, to allow the creation of Saalfeld Abbey in 1071. In 1075, a chapel dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul is mentioned on the fortified Coberg. This document also refers to a Vogt named Gerhart, implying that the local possessions of the Saalfeld Benedictines were administered from the hill.

A document signed by Pope Honorius II in 1206 refers to a mons coburg, a hill settlement. In the 13th century, the hill overlooked the town of Trufalistat (Coburg's predecessor) and the important trade route from Nuremberg via Erfurt to Leipzig. A document dated from 1225 uses the term schloss (palace) for the first time. At the time, the town was controlled by the Dukes of Merania. They were followed in 1248 by the Counts of Henneberg who ruled Coburg until 1353, save for a period from 1292-1312, when the House of Ascania was in charge.

In 1353, Coburg fell to Friedrich, Markgraf von Meißen of the House of Wettin. His successor, Friedrich der Streitbare was awarded the status of Elector of Saxony in 1423. As a result of the Hussite Wars the fortifications of the Veste were expanded in 1430.

Early modern times through Thirty Years' War

In 1485, in the Partition of Leipzig, Veste Coburg fell to the Ernestine branch of the family. A year later, Elector Friedrich der Weise and Johann der Beständige took over the rule of Coburg. Johann used the Veste as a residence from 1499. In 1506/07, Lucas Cranach the Elder lived and worked in the Veste. From April to October 1530, during the Diet of Augsburg, Martin Luther sought protection at the Veste, as he was under an Imperial ban at the time. Whilst he stayed at the fortress, Luther continued with his work translating the Bible into German. In 1547, Johann Ernst moved the residence of the ducal family to a more convenient and fashionable location, Ehrenburg Palace in the town centre of Coburg. The Veste now only served as a fortification.

In the further splitting of the Ernestine line, Coburg became the seat of the Herzogtum von Sachsen-Coburg, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg. The first duke was Johann Casimir (1564-1633), who modernized the fortifications. In 1632, the fortress was unsuccessfully besieged by Imperial and Bavarian forces commanded by Albrecht von Wallenstein for seven days during the Thirty Years' War. Its defence was commanded by Georg Christoph von Taupadel. On 17 March 1635, after a renewed siege of five months' duration, the Veste was handed over to the Imperials under Guillaume de Lamboy.

17th through 19th centuries

From 1638-72, Coburg and the Veste were part of the Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg. In 1672, they passed to the Dukes of Saxe-Gotha and in 1735 it was joined to the Duchy of Saxe-Saalfeld. Following the introduction of Primogeniture by Duke Franz Josias (1697-1764), Coburg went by way of Ernst Friedrich (1724-1800) to Franz (1750-1806), noted art collector, and to Duke Ernst III (1784-1844), who remodeled the castle.

In 1826, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was created and Ernst now styled himself 'Ernst I'. Military use of the Veste had ceased by 1700 and outer fortifications had been demolished in 1803-38. From 1838-60, Ernst had the run-down fortress converted into a Gothic revival residence. In 1860, use of the Zeughaus as a prison (since 1782) was discontinued. Through a successful policy of political marriages, the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha established links with several of the major European dynasties, including that of the United Kingdom.

20th century

The dynasty ended with the reign of Herzog Carl Eduard (1884-1954), also known as Charles Edward, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a grandson of Queen Victoria, who until 1919 also was the 2nd Duke of Albany in the United Kingdom. Under his rule, many changes made to the Veste in the 19th century were reversed under architect Bodo Ebhardt, with the aim of restoring a more authentic medieval look. Along with the other ruling princes of Germany, Carl Eduard was deposed in the revolution of 1918-1919. After Carl Eduard abdicated in late 1918, the Veste came into possession of the state of Bavaria, but the former duke was allowed to live there until his death. The works of art collected by the family were gifted to the Coburger Landesstiftung, a foundation, which today runs the museum.

In 1945, the Veste was seriously damaged by artillery fire in the final days of World War II. After 1946, renovation works were undertaken by the new owner, the Bayerische Verwaltung der staatlichen Schlösser, Gärten und Seen.

Today

The Veste is open to the public and today houses museums, including a collection art objects and paintings that belonged to the ducal family of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a large collection of arms and armor, significant examples of early modern coaches and sleighs, and important collections of prints, drawings and coins.