A decorated key

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. This one comes from the 1195 destruction levels of the castle—so possibly it belonged to Angharad FitzMartin.  It’s so very rare to find something which has the possibility of being related to a specific individual from the past. But that is the value of Nevern Castle: prominent enough in the 12th century to have recorded history, but without later 13th and 14th century contamination, so that a decade of archaeology allows us to see the physical evidence—the reality of a 12th century past.    Dr Chris Caple

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Family feuds

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

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Archbishop Baldwin 1188

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. Baldwin & Gerald Archbishop Baldwin, of humble origins, was a scholarly ex-monk from Exeter. According to Gerald, he was an eloquent preacher but not an effective leader of the Church. Baldwin enjoyed the company of the tall, handsome, extrovert, self-confident Gerald – and recognised the advantage of being accompanied by a man who had been born in Manorbier Castle (1145/6) of Anglo-Norman William de Barri and Angharad, daughter of Nest and granddaughter of Rhys ap Tewdwr, Prince of south Wales. In short, Gerald knew, or was related to, everyone – Anglo-Norman or Welsh – who might be of consequence in furthering Baldwin’s efforts… Continue reading Archbishop Baldwin 1188

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The Throne

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. On the back of the throne, you can see the coats of arms of the two families that alternately held and extended the Castle: The red and white bars of the FitzMartins, who were the Norman colonists; and the lion of the Welsh prince Lord Rhys, who led the local resistance. The panels at the sides of the throne are views of the Castle as it might have been. One side shows it around 1136, when the buildings and fences were made of wood. The other is around 1190, when it was a much more grand place, with impressive stone walls, towers, and halls. It was burned to the ground not long after that in 1196. The throne was conceived as a piece of fun that children of all ages can enjoy, while their grown-ups contemplate the dramatic 12th century history of the Castle and enjoy… Continue reading The Throne

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Barbecue

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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