Ancient Monuments

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Cilgerran Castle

A Scheduled Monument in Cilgerran, Pembrokeshire (Sir Benfro)

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Latitude: 52.057 / 52°3'25"N

Longitude: -4.6343 / 4°38'3"W

OS Eastings: 219493

OS Northings: 243117

OS Grid: SN194431

Mapcode National: GBR D0.DK5D

Mapcode Global: VH2MW.MKFH

Entry Name: Cilgerran Castle

Scheduled Date:

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 3057

Cadw Legacy ID: PE002

Schedule Class: Defence

Category: Castle

Period: Medieval

County: Pembrokeshire (Sir Benfro)

Community: Cilgerran

Built-Up Area: Cilgerran

Traditional County: Pembrokeshire


The monument consists of the remains of a castle, dating to the medieval period. Cilgerran castle is situated on a precipitous rocky promontory above the River Teifi. It comprises an outer ward separated by a defensive ditch from an inner ward defended by two strong towers and a main gatehouse. The castle may be the site of ‘Cenarth Bychan’ where a Welsh attack of 1109 resulted in Nest the wife of Gerald of Windsor absconding with Owain the son of the Prince of Powys. The name is first mentioned in 1164, when captured by the Lord Rhys. It was recaptured by William Marshal, Earl of Pembroke, in 1204 and then retaken by the Welsh during Llewellyn the Great's campaigns during 1215. William's son, another William, regained control eight years later and it is likely the present masonry castle is his work.

The form of the castle may reflect the earliest earthwork castle as the bank and ditch cutting off the promontory and enclosing the outer ward might be the site of the original bailey. The outer ward has a gatehouse surviving as low footings but its date is uncertain. The ward wall is a modern rebuild following the collapse of the original wall due to quarrying on the cliff below. William fortified The inner ward in stone with two towers and a gatehouse. The strong, plain round towers protrude well beyond the curtain wall and the outer defensive parts are thicker than the inner, as series of arrow slits are the only openings on the outer side. Both towers have a ground floor and three upper storeys. The eastern tower entered at first-floor level from the courtyard by a door leading to a newel stair had a separate entrance to the ground floor and the upper floors were probably accessed by a trapdoor. The west tower originally also had a first-floor entrance this reached by a stair from the inner ward. The ground floor must have been reached by a trap door and possibly functioning as a strong room or dungeon. Later a door was inserted together with a newel stair to provide access to above and a cross wall so that a portion could remain as a strong room. The gatehouse, now collapsed, has a gate passage with portcullis grooves and draw bar holes. Above was a vaulted room, perhaps a chapel, and above this a passage in the curtain wall connected with the two round towers, these could also be reached from the curtain wall walk. Along the northeast and northwest sides of the inner ward the curtain wall and the remains of buildings date to the second half of the thirteenth century by which time the castle had passed through marriage from the Marshalls first to the de Cantelupes and then to the Hastings family. Footings remain of a hall and private apartments and a kitchen against the west wall.

In the 1370s an invasion from France was feared, and Edward III ordered that the now rather derelict castle be refortified and a large tower at the northwest corner probably belongs to this period. After 1389, when the Hastings family died out, the castle passed to the crown. It may have been captured and held for a short time in 1405 during Glyndwr’s wars of independence, it was certainly damaged during the attack. After that the castle's active military service came to an end. In the Tudor period, the Vaughan family were granted the castle by Henry VII, and they continued to occupy it until the early 17th century, when they built a new house nearby. The castle fell into ruin, but its picturesque setting made it an early favourite among tourists, who from the 18th century, could visit by boat from Cardigan.

The monument is of national importance for its potential to enhance our knowledge of medieval defensive practices. The monument is well-preserved and an important relic of the medieval landscape. It retains significant archaeological potential, with a strong probability of the presence of both structural evidence and intact associated deposits.

The scheduled area comprises the remains described and areas around them within which related evidence may be expected to survive.

Source: Cadw

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