Gatehouse and bell tower, St Davids

Gatehouse and bell tower, St Davids

This structure, known as Porth y Twr (“Tower Gate”) is the only survivor of the four gatehouses which guarded the entry points to the medieval cathedral city. From here a path descends to St Davids Cathedral.

The area was ringed by a defensive wall c.4.5 metres high (15ft), parts of which remain intact. The wall is thought to date from the 13th and 14th centuries, and probably replaced an earlier means of enclosure.

The gatehouse was topped with battlements. Inside you can see the vertical grooves for the portcullis, a wooden door which was drawn up inside the building to allow entry. The medieval town council met in the gatehouse.

The adjoining octagonal tower is where bells are rung to call worshippers to services. The cathedral tower has its own bell frame, with some timbers dating from 1385. However, the cathedral was built on wet foundations, and the tower lost its bells in the 1730s to reduce the risk of collapse.

In the 1930s an anonymous benefactor paid for the octagonal tower to be repaired and reinforced for its new role as a bell tower. A new set of bells was installed. Two additional bells, funded by the American Friends of St Davids Cathedral, were added in 2001.

One of the medieval bells is displayed in the gatehouse, where you will also find a lapidarium (a place where ancient memorials are displayed). There you can see stones and crosses carved soon after Christianity came to Wales.

Postcode: SA62 6RD    View Location Map

Cathedral website