The comprehensive gazetteer and bibliography of the medieval castles, fortifications and palaces of England, Wales, the Islands.
The listings
Other Info
Print Page 
Next Record 
Previous Record 
Back to list 

Penrice Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;

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

OS Map Grid Reference: SS49718850
Latitude 51.57524° Longitude -4.17025°

Penrice Castle has been described 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*.


Penrice Castle is a large and very irregular hexagonal plan fortress fitted onto a blunt headland on the northern side of Penrice Dingle. The earliest surviving remains are the mid-thirteenth century keep and three short sections of curtain wall. The rest of the curtain wall is late thirteenth century. A dovecote (NPRN 37646) has been added against the south-east curtain wall, possibly replacing an earlier tower or turret. Some restoration of the battlements and butressing of walls can be attributed to landscaping associated with the eighteenth century house to the south (NPRN 265707). (Coflein)

Hilltop position in parkland of Penrice Castle mansion 300m south of the A4118.
Possibly of Norman origin, but almost lacking in datable detail. Probably much of the stonework remaining is C13; a window with seats in the north-west gatehouse overlooking the ward suggests the C13 and the gatehouse also has pointed arches. The castle was abandoned in favour of Oxwich Castle in the late mediaeval period and fell into ruin. It was slighted by Cromwell. When engraved by Buck in c1735 the surviving curtain wall still has its crenellations. The ruins were probably reduced for picturesque effect in the late C18. A wall dividing the ward into two halves has nearly all disappeared.
A stone-built castle consisting of a drum-tower keep with a large ward to its east side. A group of ruined buildings at the north of the ward include a gatehouse with flanking defensive turrets. Attached to the east side, externally, is a conical dovecote . Much of the ruin is heavily overgrown and inaccessible. The wall of the ward survives generally to a height of about 3 to 5 metres. Irregularities at intervals appear to be small open-backed defensive turrets. The circular keep at the west side is about 12m diameter, surviving to a height of about three storeys; most openings appear to be walled up except a slit opening facing west and a pointed arch facing north to the exterior. It has two small semicircular additions, one to east and one to west, and a three-storeyed rectangular building attached to it on the exterior. The latter building survives on two sides only; it had a gabled roof running NE/SW; large fireplace in its SW wall with segmental arch on corbels; remnants of flat arches in openings above. Close to the keep is a small intramural building of which two walls remain, with a walled up segmental opening to the exterior. The entrance building at the north has a portcullis slot behind a gothic arch. Guard towers left and right with loops facing the entrance. The one to the north has been adapted as a dovecote, the other is inaccessible. The rear corners of this building facing the ward are rounded. Gothic arch of two orders to rear opening to the ward; above this a first floor lancet window with seats in the reveals. Along the north side is an enclosure with traces of intramural buildings. Two walls at the north east side are a fragment of a building to which the lost wall dividing the ward into two halves was attached. (Listed Building Report)

Penrice Castle lies 850m to the NE of Mountyborough, the early castle-ringwork (PRN 165w) beside the parish church, which it replaced in stone as the caput of the knight's fee of Penrice in the mid 13th century. Impressive natural defences on three sides explain the choice of site. Between the successive castles, a nameless stream runs eastwards in the steep-side Penrice Dingle on its course to join Oxwich Bay. The Penres family held Penrice from the 12th century until the 14th century, when an heiress took it in marriage to the Mansels. The primary earthwork castle, Mountyborough, is clearly a 12th century work. No record specifically affirms that Mountyborough was the castle of the early Penres lords, but their presence there is attested by the history of the adjacent parish church, St Andrew's, Penrice. By 1750 the Penrice estate, with Oxwich, had become part of the Margam estate. On the death of the fourth Baron Mansel, the Margam estate passed to the Reverend Thomas Talbot, whose son, Thomas Mansel Talbot, succeeded him on attaining his majority in 1768. Thomas Mansel Talbot chose to disregard the Margam Abbey mansion and established himself instead at Penrice. He built himself a new mansion (PRN 1502w) below the south flank of the castle, which continued to be occupied on his death in 1813 by his wife and her second husband. The house is still resided in by the Talbot descendants, the Methuen Campbells. Drawings show that the castle's outer ditch had been infilled by 1741, and the buildings within in ruins. (Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust HER)

Robert de Penres at about the time of his marriage in 1237 transferred from his seat at Mountybank. He built a round keep and a thin curtain wall running NE from it to cut off the promontory neck. Stone-walled and towered circuit, enclosing a rather irregular area, c.94m NE-SW by 60m, with steep slopes on all sides except the NW, where the entrance is found. After the Welsh revolts of the 1250s and 60s he enclosed the rest of the site with stone walls with tiny round flanking turrets. A long barn was provided on the NE side and the vulnerable west side was re-developed with a hall block and a gatehouse. His son Robert added a solar block with pleasant upper rooms with fireplaces west of the keep and a chemise on the east side in c1290-1310. A late C18 house also called Penrice Castle stands just below the medieval castle. (Derived from Salter, 1991)
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

Data >
Coflein   County HER   Scheduling   Listing    
Maps >
Streetmap   NLS maps   Where's the path   Old-Maps      
Data/Maps > 
Magic   Historic Wales   V. O. B.   Geology   LIDAR  
Air Photos > 
Bing Maps   Google Maps   Getmapping   ZoomEarth      
Photos >
CastleFacts   Geograph   Flickr   Panoramio      

Sources of information, references and further reading
Most of the sites or buildings recorded in this web site are NOT open to the public and permission to visit a site must always be sought from the landowner or tenant.
It is an offence to disturb a Scheduled Monument without consent. It is a destruction of everyone's heritage to remove archaeological evidence from ANY site without proper recording and reporting.
Don't use metal detectors on historic sites without authorisation.
The information on this web page may be derived from information compiled by and/or copyright of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historic Monuments of Wales, the four welsh archaeological trusts and other individuals and organisations. It may also contain Designated Historic Asset Descriptive Information from The Welsh Historic Environment Service (Cadw), licensed under the Open Government Licence. All the sources given should be consulted to identify the original copyright holder and permission obtained from them before use of the information on this site for commercial purposes.
The author and compiler of Gatehouse does not receive any income from the site and funds it himself. The information within this site is provided freely for educational purposes only.
The bibliography owes much to various bibliographies produced by John Kenyon for the Council for British Archaeology, the Castle Studies Group and others.
Suggestions for finding online and/or hard copies of bibliographical sources can be seen at this link.
Minor archaeological investigations, such as watching brief reports, and some other 'grey' literature is most likely to be held by H.E.R.s but is often poorly referenced and is unlikely to be recorded here, or elsewhere, but some suggestions can be found here.
The possible site or monument is represented on maps as a point location. This is a guide only. It should be noted that OS grid references defines an area, not a point location. In practice this means the actual center of the site or monument may often, but not always, be to the North East of the point shown.
Locations derived from OS grid references and from latitude longitiude may differ by a small distance.
Further information on mapping and location can be seen at this link.
Lidar coverage in the UK is not complete. The button above will give an idea of the area of coverage. Higher resolution lidar images in both DSM and DTM form may be available from Lle A geo-Portal for Wales (click the preview tag to bring up a map and then select format byclicking on the small blue diamond in the top right corner of the map.)
Please help to make this as useful a resource as possible by contacting Gatehouse if you see errors, can add information or have suggestions for improvements in functality and design.
Help is acknowledged.
*The listed building may not be the actual medieval building, but a building on the site of, or incorporating fragments of the described site.

This record last updated 20/04/2017 04:29:21