Narberth Castle (Pembrokeshire, South Wales)
Updated: Jan 15, 2019
A castle at Narberth was first recorded in 1116. The ruins visible today are Norman in origin and likely date from the 13th century, built by a chap named Andrew Perrot.
Narberth Castle was attacked by the Welsh in 1159 and 1215. On both occasions the castle was torched, but quickly retaken and rebuilt. In 1247 the castle passed to Roger Mortimer, Lord of Wigmore, and he was still the owner when Narberth was attacked and destroyed in 1257 by Llywelyn ap Gruffudd. Mortimer soon re-captured the site and commenced rebuilding the castle's inner bailey in stone.
Part of the castle was burnt once again in 1299 when Welsh rebels attacked the site. The extent of the damage is not recorded.
In 1322 Roger Mortimer took part in a failed rebellion against Edward II, and upon imprisonment in the Tower of London the castle was forfeited (Roger died in the Tower in 1326). His nephew, another Roger, managed to re-acquire the castle when he overthrew Edward III and took up with his Queen Isabella, however he was soon overthrown himself in 1330.
After this Narberth Castle passed through several owners before being restored to the Mortimer family in 1354. It was confiscated again in 1402 when Edmund Mortimer allied himself to Owain Glyndŵr.
After this confiscation Thomas Carew was installed as its custodian and in 1404 successfully held the castle against the Welsh rebels, with Henry IV subsequently rewarding him with a grant of the castle and lordship for life.
Narberth Castle was restored to the Mortimer family in 1413 by Henry V. However when Edmund Mortimer died childless in 1422 it reverted to the Crown. Henry VI then granted it to Richard, Duke of York until his death in 1460. It then remained in Crown ownership until Henry VIII granted it to Sir Rhys ap Thomas, owner of Carew Castle. By this time though the structure was in decline and in the seventeenth century it was reported as ruinous and derelict.
A rectangular enclosure with four corner towers, very little remains today to show what a substantial castle had been here. All that still stands are a chamber with a vaulted storeroom underneath and the south-east tower. The entire north side of the site, including the main gatehouse, are no longer present.
The castle is leased by the town council. Most websites say that it is not open to access, but on both my visits there the gate was open and it seems that anyone can come and go! Well worth a visit if you’re in the area, and with other castles such as Carew, Laugharne, Llawhaden, Manorbier, Picton, and Pembroke nearby it can be a part of a substantial castle trip.
Castle Site Plan
Pictures taken April 2018