Nevern Castle

There isn’t much to see now of the Castle at Nevern. But for almost a century, a complex and dramatic story of treachery, prosperity, family feuds and celebrations was played out on this promontory in north Pembrokeshire.

1108: Norman colonists built banks and motte with wooden palisades and tower

Turmhügelburg. – Photo: Wy / Wikipedia

Forty years after the 1066 conquest of England, the Normans were still trying to subjugate Wales. Norman King Henry I authorized Robert FitzMartin to take control of Cemaes, the north of what is now Pembrokeshire. FitzMartin chose Nevern at which to build a stronghold for his forces.

More about the history

It became an important hub with impressive stone buildings, battled over by Welsh and Normans

Conquering the Welsh wasn’t easy. After Henry I died, the Normans were distracted by a long feud over the English crown. At the Battle of Crug Mawr in 1136, the Welsh decisively took back control, and occupied the castles at Cardigan and Nevern. Gruffydd, and later his son Rhys, were prominent leaders.

1196: Burned to the ground after ninety years. Has been farm land ever since

Eventually the Normans returned. An uneasy truce was established when William FitzMartin married Rhys’ daughter Angharad. But as soon as William went off to fight in the crusades, Rhys re-occupied Nevern. He and his sons then fought between themselves, finally destroying the castle.

More about the people

1980: Nevern Community Council bought the site for the benefit of the community

Together with Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority, and Cadw (the Welsh Government’s historic environment service) Nevern Community Council has worked hard to look after the site and open it up for all to enjoy.

Join the Friends of Nevern Castle to help conserve and manage the site.

2008-2018: Archaeological digs uncover the varied history and changing structure of the castle

Dr Chris Caple of Durham University led the excavations. Many artefacts were discovered, providing a fascinating glimpse of life in the castle. The findings also showed the development of the buildings and walls and their construction by Norman and Welsh techniques.

More about the archaeology

Now a space of peace and tranquillity

A few people have lived and farmed here over the centuries. Now it is home to walkers and wildlife. Little can be seen of the castle except for the banks, ditches, and the motte. Trees grow where there were once fine halls and commanding views over the countryside. Come and enjoy the peace; and remember our history!

Visit Nevern Castle

Latest news and articles

  • A decorated key
    Chris Caple
    An object that has come up recently in the research on Nevern is the shaft of a key, a slide key for a padlock, with inlaid spiral decoration.
    Keys like this only turn up on 12th century sites such as York, Winchester, Castle Acre. Unnecessarily decorated and expensive, they were probably mainly owned by aristocratic ladies safeguarding things which they wanted to keep safe: perhaps documents, jewellery, clothes or shoes.

     

  • Archbishop Baldwin 1188
    Rob Anthony
    Dr Robert Anthony
    Monday, 28 March 1188: it is not often in medieval history that an event can be dated with such precision, especially when concerning Wales, and we have Gerald of Wales (Giraldus Cambrensis), scholar, canon of St David’s and Archdeacon of Brecon, to thank for this. The event in question is described in his book: The Journey Through Wales (1191), an account, almost in diary form (although with lavish digressions), of the six week mission to south and north Wales by Baldwin Archbishop of Canterbury to preach the Cross in support of the Third Crusade.

     

  • Family feuds
    Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority

    Delun Gibby tells the story of Rhys' imprisonment in his own castle. (Delun was Community Archaeologist for Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority.)

     

  • The Throne
    Nevern Community Council
    It is said of the bleeding yew tree in Nevern churchyard, "The Yew will bleed until a Welsh King sits upon the throne in the Castle!"
    The saying goes back a long way. We don't have a Welsh king yet, but in 2008, Nevern Community Council took the first step by providing a throne.

     

  • Barbecue
    Nevern Community Council
    About 50 people attended the barbecue in the bailey in the August bank holiday 2021. We're looking to hold more events in the future.

     

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Images © Dr Chris Caple except where noted otherwise.