Cardiff Castle South Gate, Bute Park

Bute Park Tour Label Navigation previous buttonNavigation next button

Bute Park logo Link to Welsh translation link_to_chinese_translation

button_lang_frenchCardiff Castle South Gate

Press play for RNIB audio presentation
Or, download mp3 (1.23MB)

This is the southern entrance to Cardiff Castle, whose history reaches back to the coming of the Romans in the first century AD.

The south gate is on the left in this c.1880 photo

They realised the site’s strategic possibilities and used it as a fort and trading post. The castle is today bounded by reconstructed Roman walls, incorporating a large section of the original stonework.

The Romans left in the fourth century and little is known of the site until the arrival of the Normans at the end of the 11th century. Robert Fitzhamon raised a motte c.1090. Robert of Normandy, son of King Henry I, was held captive in the castle from 1126 until his death in 1134.  An impressive stone keep was added c.1135.

Gerald of Wales and the Archbishop of Canterbury visited Cardiff Castle on 14 March 1188 while touring Wales to recruit for the third crusade. Gerald’s journal tells how Ifor Bach had climbed over the castle’s high walls (in 1158) to kidnap the Earl of Gloucester. He also wrote that King Henry II had attended mass in a Cardiff chapel dedicated to St Piran (in 1172). Afterwards the king was warned, in English, by a tonsured man in a white habit not to permit any trading or work on Sundays or else he would suffer ill fortune. The king ignored the advice, and soon suffered rebellion by his own sons in France, which Gerald regarded as his punishment.

The castle was owned by a number of noble families. It passed by marriage from the De Clares to the Despenser family in 1399, and later to the Beauchamps. Their new building lies at the heart of the present house. Another marriage brought the castle to the Neville family, and eventually through Anne Neville, wife of Richard III, to the Crown.

Cardiff Castle was granted to the Herberts, Earls of Pembroke, by the Crown in 1550. The last noble family to own the castle, the Butes, also acquired it through marriage, in 1776. The Bute family exploited the Glamorganshire estates’ mineral reserves.

Old photo of south gate c 1900

By the 1860s, the rich but scholarly Third Marquess of Bute (1847-1900) was able to transform the Castle into a feudal extravaganza in medieval style. The 60-year project started in 1866. His architect, William Burges, created one of the most remarkable buildings in Victorian Britain, its dazzling and colourful interiors filled with gilding, sculpture, murals and stained glass.

The photos show the south gate and buildings clustered outside it c1880 (upper photo) and with tram tracks and a horse-drawn bus outside c1900, after removal of the buildings.

The Bute family gifted the castle and grounds to the City of Cardiff in 1947. After a period as the Cardiff College of Music and Drama, the castle is now one of Wales’ foremost visitor attractions.

Postcode: CF10 3RB    View Location Map

Website of Cardiff Castle

Thanks to RNIB for the audio presentation of this page

To continue the Bute Park tour, walk west along Castle Street towards the castle clock tower, where you’ll find a QR code on an interpretation board about the Animal Wall (this is HiPoint1 of the tour) Navigation next button
Cardiff Before Coal Tour Label Navigation previous buttonNavigation next button
button_tour_gerald-E Navigation previous buttonNavigation next button