Ruins of Pennard Castle, Gower

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Norman lords built a castle here after seizing lands from the Welsh in the early 12th century. They surrounded the property with a defensive ditch and bank, known as a ringwork. Later they used stone to build a hall inside. By the early 14th century the castle also boasted a curtain wall, a west tower and a stone gatehouse with twin towers on the east side.

Engraving of Pennard Castle c.1850The castle was never a proper home, but the lordship of Gower held court here at times, instead of in Swansea. The climate was unusually stormy in the 13th and 14th centuries. Sand blown from nearby dunes plagued the area around the castle, and in 1317 William de Braose III gave the castle’s hunting rights to his huntsman, who lived at Hunts Farm.

As the sand continued to accumulate, the castle and the small village to its north east were abandoned. The castle was a ruin by 1650. Its demise gave rise to many folk tales and superstitions, as you can read on this page.

The engraving of the ruins dates from c.1850 and is shown here courtesy of Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru – The National Library of Wales.

The castle site was carefully excavated in 1961, revealing the remains of various rooms. There were no roofing materials – which suggests the castle had a thatched roof. The archaeologists reburied the lower part of the ruins, to protect the remains.

Today the castle is a scheduled monument, with Pennard Golf Club as its custodian. The walls are home to a rare flowering plant known as yellow whitlowgrass (Draba aizoides), which is found nowhere else in the UK except Gower.  It normally grows on cliffs and can be described as the County Flower of Glamorgan.

Pennard Pill, the river below the castle, flows through woodland, salt marsh and dune landscapes. The woods are a protected example of ash woodlands. The salt marsh is covered by saltwater at high tide and exposed at low tide, so only certain types of plant live there that can endure these harsh conditions.

With thanks to Pennard Golf Club, Helen Nicholas of Gower Unearthed, The Gower Society, and to the Gower AONB Partnership, led by Swansea Council with support and funding from Welsh Government and Natural Resources Wales

Website of Gower Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

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