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MANORBIER CASTLE

Site Details

© Copyright and database right 2021. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey licence number 0100022206

NPRN 94195

Map Reference SS09NE

Grid Reference SS0639097790

Unitary (Local) Authority Pembrokeshire

Old County Pembrokeshire

Community Manorbier

Type of Site CASTLE

Broad Class DEFENCE

Period Post Medieval, Medieval

Site Description Manorbier is an early twelfth century and later castle with substantial stone buildings erected before 1200. The site was largely rebuilt in stone in the thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries, and re-fortified in the seventeenth. The surviving remains consist of an inner enclosure, about 76m by 44m, and an outer, about 100m by 76m, laid out along an east-west inland promontory above the confluence of two streams. The castle is 110m north-west of St James' Church, Manorbier (NPRN 104190), but physically separated from it by a valley. It has been suggested that the two may be early medieval in origin and represent a paired ecclesiastical/secular site arrangement, with the castle occupying the site of a pre-Norman aristocratic centre (llys), possibly overlying an Iron Age promontory fort.

Commanding a quiet, wooded valley with a view of the sea beyond, Manorbier is one of the most secluded and beautiful castles in Pembrokeshire. It is famous as the birthplace, in 1147, of Giraldus Cambrensis, who accompanied Archbishop Baldwin on a tour of Wales in 1188 to recruit for the Third Crusade. His oft-quoted writings on Manorbier describe it as `the pleasantest spot in Wales' and provide a vivid sense of the surroundings of the castle in its heyday. He wrote: 'The castle is excellently well defended by turrets and bulwarks, having on its northern and southern sides a fine fish pond under its wall, and a beautiful orchard on the same side, enclosed on one part by a vineyard and on the other by a wood'. Unlike many of the more austere and ruinous Pembrokeshire castles, Manorbier contains a range of well preserved domestic and farm buildings thought to date to the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Two of the towers of the old castle were brought into habitation during the late nineteenth century by the owner, J R Cobb, through the provision of roofs and floors.

Source: Driver, T. 2007. Pembrokeshire: Historic Landscapes from the Air, RCAHMW, pp 245-6.
Source: Cathcart King & Perks 1971 (AC 119), 83-118.

J.Wiles, RCAHMW, 29 May 2002.

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