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Tenby Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Dinbych-y-pysgod; Canneby

In the community of Tenby.
In the historic county of Pembrokeshire.
Modern authority of Pembrokeshire.
Preserved county of Dyfed.

OS Map Grid Reference: SN137005
Latitude 51.67253° Longitude -4.69456°

Tenby 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*.


Tenby castle occupied a large steep-sided promontory attached by a narrow neck to the medieval borough with its splendid walls (see NPRN 33213). The castle is greatly ruined and only fragments remain within a public park. The promontory was walled where it faces the town. It is reached by a sloping roadway rising along the southern wall. The much ruined gate has a D-plan barbican or outwork. Next to this the town museum built in the shell of the castle apartments. On the highest part of the promontory is a small round tower with a square stair turret. At 5.8m diameter this is the smallest castle great tower in Wales and may have been built as a homage to the great tower at Pembroke Castle. (Coflein)

On Castle Hill, a rugged promontory that divides the north and south beaches of Tenby, are the fragmentary remains of a medieval castle that was first mentioned in the twelfth century. In the 13th century Tenby Castle was part of the Lordship of Pembroke. The present remains are a gate tower and barbican (killing zone) at the south-west entrance,a round central watch tower on the summit of the hill, defensive walls and parts of domestic buildings. Short lengths of embattled curtain wall are exposed at low tide. (Dyfed Archaeological Trust HER)

Remains are situated at various locations on Castle Hill, on the NE side of the town.
Fragmentary remains of a medieval castle whose individual buildings were mentioned in an Inquisition of 1386. It is not know for certain when the masonry castle was built, a C12 Norman fort was taken by the Welsh in 1153 and 1187. The castle was part of the lordship of Pembroke in the C13, and the present remains are almost certainly C13, but whether built for the Marshals before 1245 or their successor William Valence (d 1296) is uncertain, nor is the extent of damage sustained in 1260 when Llywelyn the Last sacked the town. In disrepair from the C14, the castle saw action in the C17, being held for the Parliament for most of the Civil War, but taken for 10 weeks in 1648 by the Royalists. In 1818 a look-out tower and boat-house for the coastguard was built. In the 1860s the Castle Hill was laid out with walks and the National Memorial to the Prince Consort erected. The National School was built into a medieval domestic building, possibly the hall, depicted as roofless and gable-ended in early views. The school was founded in 1832, enlarged in 1842, and closed in 1874. The building became the Tenby Museum in 1878, and is listed separately.
Fragmentary remains of C13 castle. Of the outer walls very little remains of the main wall across the neck of the headland, but a stretch survives to N, before the 1904 lifeboat house, with arrowslits and wall-walk, and a short length on the S next to the gate and barbican. A more fragmentary and much repaired piece is next to the museum, which is itself built into a medieval domestic building, possibly the hall. A simple square gate through the curtain wall is the main entry but protected by an impressive D-shaped barbican across the approach path. On the summit of Castle Hill the small round watch tower is earlier than the square tower added to W, both medieval. Rubble stone with various altered openings, the square tower containing a newel staircase with access to the roof. Footings of domestic buildings remain on the landward side. Tenby Museum is listed separately. (Listed Building Report)

Fragmentry ruins on Castle hill, bounded by remains of wall, c.160m E-W by 52-95m; entry is through a gate tower and barbican on the S, E of this is a c.34m E-W by 20m complex of buildings, currently occupied by the Museum; a battered circular tower, c.5.8m in diameter, having a rectangular annex on the W, occupies the summit. Laid out as a public park.
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

Data >
Coflein   County HER   Scheduling   Listing    
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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This record last updated 03/07/2016 20:48:48