Ancient Monuments

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Haverfordwest Castle

A Scheduled Monument in Haverfordwest (Hwlffordd), Pembrokeshire (Sir Benfro)

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Latitude: 51.8027 / 51°48'9"N

Longitude: -4.9702 / 4°58'12"W

OS Eastings: 195310

OS Northings: 215735

OS Grid: SM953157

Mapcode National: GBR CK.XRTF

Mapcode Global: VH1RD.SYTF

Entry Name: Haverfordwest Castle

Scheduled Date: 20 February 1986

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 2714

Cadw Legacy ID: PE366

Schedule Class: Defence

Category: Castle

Period: Medieval

County: Pembrokeshire (Sir Benfro)

Community: Haverfordwest (Hwlffordd)

Built-Up Area: Haverfordwest

Traditional County: Pembrokeshire


The monument consists of the remains of a castle, dating to the medieval period. It stands at the end of ridge falling steeply on all but the western side that overlooks the western Cleddau and tidal reaches at the lowest fordable location.

The castle was founded sometime between 1108 and 1124 by Tancred an immigrant Fleming as part of the encouraged settlement of the cantref of Rhos at this time and is first recorded when held by his son Richard Fitz Tancred in 118, at the time of Gerald of Wales visit in the retinue of Archbishop Baldwin. At this stage the castle will have been a mostly earth and timber construction though with a masonry keep part of which still survives. Richard’s heir Robert was removed from the castle in 1210 by King John who in 1215 granted it to William Marshall, Earl of Pembroke. An attack on Haverfordwest in 1220 by Llywelyn the Great burnt the town but failed to breach the castle and it is likely by this time it had been rebuilt in stone. The castle passed to the de Bohun family in the mid thirteen century and in 1289 was exchanged with Queen Eleanor. In the short period before her death in 1290 the queen spent large sums on the castle and much of the existing masonry which is late 13th century in style can be ascribed to this building program. In the 14th century the castle was held by a series of owners including Edward the Black prince (from 1359 to 1367) and was repaired in the hands of the Crown in 1381-1385. It repulsed an attack during the Glyndwr rebellion in 1405. By the 16th century it was derelict but hastily refortified during the Civil War, lost to Parliamentary forces in 1644, later recaptured and held for a year before surrendered after the battle of Colby Moor, not far to the west in 1645 after the route of a Royalist army on the march. In 1648 it was ordered to be slighted.

The castle is divided into two wards, the inner ward has round towers on the north-west and south-west corners, while the south-east corner has a square tower with an additional projecting turret. The north east corner being defended by the rectangular keep which survives as footings incorporating some early arrow loops. The ward was entered to the west by a gatehouse in a location now occupied by an 18th century building dating to the later use of the castle as a prison. The remains of a spacious hall with large windows lie on the south side. Private apartments formed part of an east range where later conversion to a prison has blocked windows and seen much of the masonry refaced. The south west and south east towers have three storeys, the latter will have incorporated the chapel and at the base is a postern gate. The northwest tower preserves a wall walk carried on a row of corbels on its east side, much of the exterior masonry was refaced in the later conversion. The interior of outer ward provided a site for a new prison in 1820 and has seen redevelopment to modern times. Little remains of the medieval defences though the curtain wall survives in a much rebuilt form along most of the north side with one small semi-circular turret and one square tower further east. The outer gatehouse of which no trace remains is likely to have been on the west; removal of both outer and inner gatehouses may have begun as a result of the Civil War slighting, completed by the stone robbing and development of later centuries.

The monument is of national importance for its potential to enhance our knowledge of medieval defensive and domestic 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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