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Newport Old Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Long Street; Trefdraeth; Hen Gastell

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

OS Map Grid Reference: SN05833950
Latitude 52.02016° Longitude -4.83136°

Newport Old Castle has been described as a probable Timber Castle.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


A crescentic sweep of bank and ditch define the southern edge of an enclosure, in the region of 36m across, set hard by the foreshore within the borough of Newport (Nprn268069); possible medieval origin or reuse. (Coflein as unknown defended enclosure)

The site lies on ground sloping down to the north near the banks of the Nevern. When visited it was heavily overgrown with grass and bracken. The site is as described by various authorities. It is a semi-circular segment of enclosure defined by a bank and outer ditch. The feature is open on the north and has presumably been destroyed in this area. The causeways across the ditch mentioned by OS were not located. The causeway on the south may have been hidden by undergrowth but that on the south-west may have been destroyed by the construction of two tennis courts. Terracing for a court has cut away at least the top of the^ditch on the west and also cut into the outer toe of the bank here. Corresponding build up for a court downslope has encroached on the interior of the site and also runs across presumed line of the defences. This change is recorded in the SMR. More recently and apparently hitherto unrecorded the outer lip of the ditch has been encroached on by terracing to form a playing field. Although originally recorded on the SMR as an Iron Age enclosure, a consensus of opinion suggests that it was re-used or more probably constructed de novo in the Mediaeval period, that it is the original Newport Castle. In particular it sits squarely in the town's street plan. (see particularly Murphy 60 and Bignall refs). The ring work has had a chequered history (DRF). The Tennis court proposals were variously opposed by the Trust or supported provided full excavation was carried out, neither recommendation was accepted by the Welsh Office. A management agreement with the National Parks and other bodies was proposed, including the clearance of the site, but there is no correspondence on file relating to^this after 1984. The site is ruinous and overgrown. One of the Trust's concerns was that the Tennis Court development would have to further encroach on the site and this has indeed occurred. A management agreement would be ideal but failing this monitoring of the site and any proposals for the creation of further recreational facilities is of major importance. (GW 1996.) (Dyfed Archaeological Trust HER)

The monument comprises the earthwork remains of a ringwork, situated on the edge of the estuary of Afon Nyfer and at the northern end of the planned Medieval settlement of Newport. It is best interpreted as the original site of 'Newport Castle', probably the earliest stage of the establishment of the settlement. Subsequently, Newport's power base shifted to the southern edge of the town, where the church and stone castle are dominant features. The monument as visible today is roughly semi-circular, defined by a clear and well-preserved bank and outer ditch, with a counterscarp bank visible for much of its length. The northern part of the ringwork has, presumably, been flattened under the road/path which runs along the edge of the river. The northwest corner of the site has been disturbed by the construction of tennis courts, and the form of the earthwork has been lost in that section. (Scheduling Report)

Newport was incorporated as a Norman borough, in the Lordship of Cemaes in the early 13th century. The crescent shaped earthwork, known as Hen Gastell on the estuary to the north of Newport castle is probably the site of the first wooden stronghold of William Fitzmartin, (he had been ousted from Nevern by the Welsh Prince Rhys ap Gruffydd in 1191). The ringwork is now overgrown and damaged. (Newport Heritage Group/Norman MacKillop)
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

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This record last updated 07/07/2016 09:29:13