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Neath Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Castell-nedd; Neth

In the community of Neath.
In the historic county of Glamorgan.
Modern authority of Neath Port Talbot.
Preserved county of West Glamorgan.

OS Map Grid Reference: SS75369780
Latitude 51.66506° Longitude -3.80346°

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

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.
This is a Grade 2* listed building protected by law*.


One of two castles at Neath, this one built later, circa mid-C12 on the opposite side of the river. It's defensive role continued until the mid-C17, thereafter used for recreational activities, while slowly decaying. Neath Castle occupies a strategic elevation on the east side of the Nedd river, at its lowest practicable crossing-point, about 6km NNE of its mouth. This river was tidal and navigable; the Roman road, the medieval Portway, which ran E-W across the lowlands, crossed the Nedd at this point. An earlier castle was first raised by Richard de Glanville in the 1120s, situated across the river, 600m west, within or close to a Roman fort, which had been dismantled by 1207. This second castle is not documented until mentioned in records dated 1183. It was destroyed during the 'Despenser War' in 1321, repaired in 1377, and continued to be used until the mid-C17. By C18 the castle had become a recreational area, while C19 saw the castle largely hemmed in by industrial cottages set against its walls, except on the north flank where a Quaker's graveyard impeded such encroachments. Excavations by Neath Antiquarian Society of a building lying inside the N curtain wall and abutting the N tower of the C14 gate. Total length of bldg 45ft, found C14 floor. Cock-pit uncovered (Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust HER)

Situated between the Hall and Castle Street at the northern end of the Old Town. Late C12 motte besieged by Caradoc ap Iestyn, Lord of Afan in 1185. Works revetted with stone in C13 and 2 towers and a gatehouse added. Castle taken by Llywelyn ap Iorwerth in 1231 and attached again in 1258 when town was destroyed. Captured in 1321 by Earl of Hereford during baronial wars when site was levelled and a new castle erected on the site. Rounded earthwork trace with stone revetment walls. Substantial remains of twin towered gatehouse to W. Three storey, D ended, rubble-work towers, traces of limestone dressings, evidence of C19 repair work. Decayed arrow slits to all floors, one intact to second floor right hand tower, numerous putlog holes. Machiolation arch over gateway at wall walk height, stone voussoirs, impost block survives to right. Blocked lancet over gateway. Pointed 2 order roll moulded arch to gate. Traces of barbican? to front. Steps of earlier C13 gatehouse within gate passage. Short length of curtain to right,single decayed arrow slit. The building was in a neglected condition, at the time of inspection (June 1988). (Listed Building Report)

The masonry remains of Neath Castle are thirteenth to foutrteenth century in date but lie on earlier earthwork remains. The castle is D-shaped in plan and about 30m in diameter. A cockpit was later built on the site. (Coflein)

The monument consists of the remains of a castle dating to the medieval period. Neath Castle was one of the minor Norman castles in the lordship of Glamorgan. The Normans chose this strategic spot, guarding the river crossing, for a stronghold. The main surviving feature of the castle is the great twin-towered gatehouse on its west side. This belongs to the latest phase in its 250 year history. The first castle was a castle-ringwork known to have been built here in the 12th century by Robert, earl of Gloucester. The roughly oval, raised enclosure to the east of the gatehouse probably dates from this period. The castle was much harried by the Welsh, and was rebuilt in stone some time in the early 13th century, possibly after being destroyed by Llywelyn ab Iorwerth in 1231. The ruined curtain wall is part of this castle, although it has been much modified since. It had two projecting round towers, the stump of one of which is visible on the east side. There was a simple gatehouse on the site of the present one, and the flight of steps well below the present ground level in front of the present gatehouse led up to this 13th century one. The castle was again severely damaged in 1321-2 by enemies of the unpopular lord of Glamorgan, Hugh le Despenser. It was the 14th century rebuilding after this attack that gave it its magnificent gatehouse. Only the fronts of the great D-shaped towers and the arch between them survive. The steps of the old gateway, now uncovered again, were buried and a drawbridge used instead. Blocked windows and the springing of the arch over the gateway still retain their dressed Sutton stone surrounds which contrast nicely with the dark local sandstone of the walls. Jutting out from the front of the right-hand tower is the broken end of the town wall. In the interior of the castle, the foundations of buildings now only remain. (Scheduling Report)

It is often suggested, based on a particular interpretation of the C12 Neath Abbey foundation charter, that an earlier castle was built on a different site west of the river (See record for Granville Castle).
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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This record last updated 28/06/2017 18:13:03