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Penller Castell

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Penllyr; New Castle in Gower; Penlle'r Castell

In the community of Mawr.
In the historic county of Glamorgan.
Modern authority of Swansea.
Preserved county of West Glamorgan.

OS Map Grid Reference: SN66540960
Latitude 51.76918° Longitude -3.93559°

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

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


At the highest point in Gower, 373m OD, Penlle'r Castell occupies the 'pen' (summit) of a mountain formerly known as 'Lle'r Castell' (place of the castle). A purely military stronghold or blockhouse, its position was selected to protect a remote and vulnerable frontier. The form of Penlle'r Castell and the scant traces of its crude masonry permit no firm conclusions as to its date of construction, but its identification with the New Castle of Gower destroyed in 1252 suggests that its foundation, and the encroachment into Gower, did not long proceed that date. No other castle in Gower could have been the New Castle: within the northern uplands of Gower there is only Penlle'r Castell and Cae Castell, a presumed Welsh castle of the 12th century whose form and remote location preclude its consideration as the castle attacked in 1252. For a castle founded c1252 and possibly modified during the next 80 years, Penlle'r Castell is exceptional, not merely in its form, but also for its limited purpose as a purely military frontier fortification incapable of supporting the economic or administrative functions of a castle in more hospitable locations. Its limited function explains its seemingly crude construction and unconventional design. It presumably sheltered a small detachment of mounted men charged with the task of policing a disputed border. (Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust HER)

The surviving remains consist of impressive earthworks with slight vestiges of the masonry which once crowned them. It has been suggested with reasonable confidence that this unconventional structure was founded by William de Braose II as a military frontier castle c. 1252. (Coflein–ref. RCAHMW, 2000)

Strongly ditched platform with unmortared defences (two square towers?). Not likely to have been a permanent defensive position. No history; believed to be a late C13 strong-point between rival marcher lords. (Hogg and King)

The monument comprises the remains of a motte and bailey castle, a military stronghold built during the medieval period. A motte and bailey castle comprises a large mound of soil or stone (the motte) surrounded by, or adjacent to, one or more embanked enclosures (the bailey). Both may be surrounded by wet or dry ditches and could be further strengthened with palisades, revetments, and/or a tower on top of the motte. The earthworks consist of a sub-rectangular mound, over 30m long, un-equally divided by a broad ditch. There are traces of at least three drystone structures on the level top, and the whole monument is surrounded by a deep v-shaped ditch. It is argued that the earthwork was constructed in the late 13th century during a border dispute between William de Breos and Rhys Fychan. The fact that Carreg Cennen castle is visible from the site may be significant, but the insubstantial construction of the drystone structures suggests only temporary occupation. (Scheduling Report)

Salter, however, writes "The castle was probably of welsh origin and is unlikely to have been used after the end of the C13." but this may represent a confabulation with Cae Castell.
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

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Coflein   County HER   Scheduling        
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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This record last updated 06/07/2016 17:59:11