Village lost to sand, Pennard, Gower

Gower-AONB-FullLink to Welsh translationVillage lost to sand, Pennard, Gower

In medieval times, there was a village where you now see the open landscape between here and Pennard Castle. The residents were forced out because too much wind-blown sand accumulated.

The castle was originally a manor belonging to Norman lords of Gower in the 12th century. Other buildings were erected on the demesne lands (belonging to the manor). They included a church, probably built in the 13th or 14th century.

The area was exposed to the prevailing westerly wind, which carried sand from the dunes and deposited it around and inside the buildings. Sand scraping across the structures, day and night, would have caused erosion and damage.

A survey of the Manor of Pennard in 1650 found that the demesne lands were “wholly besanded by meanes of the nearnesse thereof unto the sea and rendered altogether unprofitable, lyeinge open as common”.

The ruined church – now within the golf course – disappeared from view under sand, despite the surviving walls reaching up to 2.5 metres from the floor. The remains were rediscovered by local rector Edward Knight James c.1860. He organised a dig which revealed an altar. Near the altar were four graves. Three contained a single skeleton each. The remains of six people were found in the fourth grave.

The current St Mary’s Church in Pennard is also medieval. According to local tradition, it includes elements which were removed from the doomed church.

In 1983 archaeologists used fragments of pottery to date the remains of a house, between the church and castle, to the 13th century.

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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