Medieval castles in Wales

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

Tinboeth Castle

Tinboeth Castle is believed to have been built by Roger Mortimer during the 13th century. Following Mortimer"s death, the castle fell into ruin and little of the structure remains. The castle was constructed in an Iron Age hillfort and measures around 100 metres in diameter. The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales notes that the remains indicate the site featured a twin-towered gatehouse ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Llandrindod Wells, United Kingdom

Cefnllys Castle

Cefnllys was a medieval spur castle in Radnorshire. Two successive masonry castles were built on a ridge above the River Ithon known as Castle Bank in the thirteenth century, replacing a wooden motte-and-bailey castle constructed by the Normans nearby. Controlling several communication routes into the highlands of Mid Wales, the castles were strategically important within the Welsh Marches during the High Middle ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Radnorshire, United Kingdom

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Broch of Gurness

The Broch of Gurness is an Iron Age broch village. Settlement here began sometime between 500 and 200 BC. At the centre of the settlement is a stone tower or broch, which once probably reached a height of around 10 metres. Its interior is divided into sections by upright slabs. The tower features two skins of drystone walls, with stone-floored galleries in between. These are accessed by steps. Stone ledges suggest that there was once an upper storey with a timber floor. The roof would have been thatched, surrounded by a wall walk linked by stairs to the ground floor. The broch features two hearths and a subterranean stone cistern with steps leading down into it. It is thought to have some religious significance, relating to an Iron Age cult of the underground.

The remains of the central tower are up to 3.6 metres high, and the stone walls are up to 4.1 metres thick. The tower was likely inhabited by the principal family or clan of the area but also served as a last resort for the village in case of an attack.

The broch continued to be inhabited while it began to collapse and the original structures were altered. The cistern was filled in and the interior was repartitioned. The ruin visible today reflects this secondary phase of the broch's use.

The site is surrounded by three ditches cut out of the rock with stone ramparts, encircling an area of around 45 metres diameter. The remains of numerous small stone dwellings with small yards and sheds can be found between the inner ditch and the tower. These were built after the tower, but were a part of the settlement's initial conception. A 'main street' connects the outer entrance to the broch. The settlement is the best-preserved of all broch villages.

Pieces of a Roman amphora dating to before 60 AD were found here, lending weight to the record that a 'King of Orkney' submitted to Emperor Claudius at Colchester in 43 AD.

At some point after 100 AD the broch was abandoned and the ditches filled in. It is thought that settlement at the broch continued into the 5th century AD, the period known as Pictish times. By that time the broch was not used anymore and some of its stones were reused to build smaller dwellings on top of the earlier buildings. Until about the 8th century, the site was just a single farmstead.

In the 9th century, a Norse woman was buried at the site in a stone-lined grave with two bronze brooches and a sickle and knife made from iron. Other finds suggest that Norse men were buried here too.