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Cardiff Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Caerdydd; Caerdiff; Caerdyf; Kidis; Kerdif; Caertoph

In the community of Castle.
In the historic county of Glamorgan.
Modern authority of Cardiff.
Preserved county of South Glamorgan.

OS Map Grid Reference: ST18087659
Latitude 51.48266° Longitude -3.18189°

Cardiff Castle has been described as a certain Timber Castle, and also as a certain Masonry Castle.

There are major building remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.
This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law*.


Cardiff Castle was established within the walls of a mighty Roman fort by William I of England in about 1081. The castle had a chequered history and fell into decline following the civil war. From 1776 a program of landscaping, clearance and reconstruction was embarked upon and from 1868 through to the 1920s the castle was transformed according to the fantastical Gothic plans of William Burgess and the Roman walls were cleared and reconstructed. The great castle mound in the north-west corner of the fort was probably thrown up in the late eleventh century and its great shell keep was added soon afterwards, if not in the same operation. The fort was divided into two courts; the smaller inner court with the lord's apartments and offices, and the larger outer court where the county court and the knight's of the shire's houses were found. The Roman walls were retained about the inner court, but were covered by a great earthen bank around the outer court. The borough to the south was enclosed by strong walls and towers. The castle apartments are on the west side of the inner court. The earliest fabric is early fifteenth century, but this is almost all the work of William Burgess and the towers and halls owe little to the medieval castle. (Coflein)

A Roman timber fort stood on the site from circa AD55-60, successively rebuilt, until around 280 a large stone fort was built, whose foundations define the present castle enclosure. Around 1081, William I built a motte within the Roman enclosure, upon which the present polygonal stone keep was built about 50 years later. This was modified c1300 with addition of S tower; an inner bailey wall was constructed, and probably the Black Tower. Around 1429-39, Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick built a polygonal tower and new domestic range against W wall The range was enlarged in the late C16 by Henry Herbert, Second Earl of Pembroke. The castle was inherited by Lord Mountstuart, later the first Marquess of Bute in 1776 who had the western apartments modified by Henry Holland, and the grounds landscaped by Lancelot Brown. Further work 1817. Some work to Black Tower by John Prichard, 1850. From 1868, the Third Marquess of Bute employed William Burges (1827-1881), amongst the most important Gothic revival architects and designers of the period, to transform the castle into a High Victorian medieval fantasy with particularly exotic interiors, executed by a team of leading artists and craftsmen. The castle also retains important fittings and furnishings from this period. Burges' sources range across much of European Gothic art; the Arab Room introduces an Islamic influence. Burges' schemes were continued after his death by William Frame, although Burges' elaborate Grand Staircase, partially completed, was removed in early C20. The S gate and barbican Tower by J P Grant, 1920s; West gate 1921. The Roman walls were exposed and rebuilt to more than their original height between 1891and 1923. The Castle was given to the City in 1947 by the 5th Marquess of Bute.
The interior has 17 rooms to the designs of Burges, and others show his guidance. Many of the rooms are of unrivalled sumptuousness and fantasy. CLOCK TOWER has rib-vaulted Winter Smoking room with decoration on the theme of Time. Above this, the Bachelor bedroom with theme of mineral wealth, bathroom with Penarth alabaster.The elaborate Summer smoking room with gallery, ribbed and painted dome, tiled floor, painted wall tiles. GUEST TOWER has Nursery with painted tiles of fables and nursery rhymes, overmantle with figures of Fame and Aesop's fox fables. Walnut Room with overmantle of Jack and the Beanstalk. ARAB ROOM with Islamic vault, trellis work, multi-coloured marble floor; marble walls, Arabic stained glass. BANQUETING HALL has open timber roof with fan vaulting and angels. Wooden screen to S. Chimneypiece in form of castle with equestrian figure of Robert, Earl of Gloucester. Wall-paintings of his exploits. OCTAGON STAIR in Beauchamp Tower; stone newell and Mouchette balustrade, paintings of Aesop's fables. Small vaulted ORATORY in French Gothic style. LIBRARY has paired Gothic doorways with relief monkeys; Gothic bookcases; chimneypiece with 5 seated figures representing alphabets and Third Marquess. ENTRANCE HALL (1930). LORD BUTE'S STUDY has lierne vault with foliage bosses and painted birds; panelled walls. Nearby, Office and NOAH ROOM. DRAWING ROOM in simple classical style. DINING ROOM uses scenes from life of Abraham to illustrate hospitality. Heavy painted ceiling with cylindrical beams. Overmantel with sculpted figures of Abraham and Sarah flanking 3 angels over Greek inscription. Stained glass with scenes from life of Abraham; carved and inlaid shutters. LADY BUTE'S APPARTMENT include panelled bedroom, and bathroom with stained glass roundels. CHAUCER ROOM decorated with scenes from Chaucer; octagonal plan top lit from fleche of Beauchamp Tower. Lantern has 2 levels of stained glass with figures from Canterbury Tales, and scenes from Tales, and Chaucerian subjects in tracery glass.Stencilled timbers to lantern. Crocketed arches with murals of Legend of Good Women (corbels of female figures). Walnut panelling inlaid with mother of pearl. Marble chimneypiece with female figures hanging heraldic shield on tree.Tiled floor with vine-leaf maze. Above dining room, LORD BUTE'S SITTING ROOM decorated with scenes of life of St Blane (Patron Saint of Isle of Bute); on door, painting of Seven Deadly Sins overcome by Virtue. Brass overmantel with sculpted beavers on lintel. LORD BUTE'S BEDROOM has ceiling with heavy beams on stone corbels supported by green marble shafts; 3 arches to each wall; beyond bedroom, bathroom. The ROOF GARDEN has marble-faced court with bronze columns supporting tiled roof; mosaic floor. Combination of Medieval and Pompeian styles; wall tiles, and Hebrew inscriptions; bronze fountain and statue of Virgin and Child.
Castle entered from S at Black tower (polygonal turret to rear) and S gate (rebuilt 1920s) with towers to R. South walls to W of Black Tower reconstructed in Medieval style by Burges with battlements with flaps between merlons, and slate roof. Curtain walls to SE, E and N reconstructed in Roman Style with crenellations, polygonal turrets, and enclosed wall-walk with arched openings. North wall has central gate with turret to each side; course of pink stone separates Roman Work from reconstruction. To N of N gate, wooden bridge on concrete piers in Roman style. On W side of enclosure, stretch of medieval curtain wall with C20 turret. West front of apartments has, from N, Bute Tower (raised 2 storeys by Burges) statues in arcading, tall square turret to L. Polygonal Beauchamp tower with machicolations and wooden (C19) fleche. Below, reconstructed West Gate (1920s). Square Herbert Tower (raised 2 storeys by Burges) with steep slate roof. Guest tower: gable end of tank tower. At SW corner, Clock tower, machicolated, with heraldic shields, polychrome statues, gilt clock faces, pyramidal lead roof of 2 stages with clerestorey windows of Smoking Room; stair turret to N. In bailey, Motte surrounded by moat re-excavated in C19. Stone keep dodecagonal in plan; lias w freestone angles; S tower with turret (C20); stairs with base of turret enclosing well. Former curtain wall marked with modern masonry. Rear of S curtain with wooden walkway and lead? gargoyles; walkway continues round Clock Tower. E front of Western appartments has then tank tower with steeply-pitched slate roof to gallery. Then tall guest tower with tall polygonal turret to R. Steps up to Entrance to L of Beauchamp range with 5 polygonal turrets (but S turret to R of doorway 1927). North block (Holland) of 3 windows plus one set back Gothic fenestration (C20). (Listed Building Report)

Robert Fitzhamon, the Norman Lord of Gloucester, drawn into the quarrels of the Welsh princes, defeated Iestyn ap Gwrgan, Prince of Glamorgan, in 1091. He saw the strategic value of the site of the old Roman fort and built his Norman castle here. The Normans concentrated their defensive works into the western half of the site, which became the 'inner' ward. At the northern end of this part, Fitzhamon built a 'motte', or mound, 40 feet high and surrounded it by a moat. This Keep, or strong-point, was surmounted by a timber stockade giving shelter and protection to the wooden buildings which housed the lord, his household and his garrison. ... (Cardiff Castle, 2010, Castle timeline)
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This record last updated 28/06/2017 18:13:03