Caerleon Net
A History of Caerleon Castle
© Robert Trett 2006

Caerleon Castle is one of the earliest and largest mottes in South Wales, but is now covered with trees and is hardly visible behind 19th century walls.

A wooden fort was built on top of the motte, which was probably constructed after the Norman Conquest. At that time the Lord of Caerleon was Caradoc ap Gruffydd. He died in 1081 and was succeeded by his son Owain Wan (Owain the Weak). William the Conqueror assigned this part of South Wales, centred on Cardiff, to Robert fitz Hamon, and he divided the area up amongst his nobles, following his defeat of Jestyn ap Gwrgan, the Prince of Glamorgan.

The Domesday Book (1086) refers to Turstin fitz Rolf holding the castle from William de Scohies, but Owain son's Iorwerth regained the castle, only to lose it to Henry II in 1171 and to regain it two years later.

In 1175 Howel, the son of Iorweth, founded Lantarnum Abbey (3 miles away). This is also known as Caerleon Abbey - this causing much confusion in more recent times with "The Priory" in Caerleon.

In 1217 William Marshall, Earl of Pembroke, acquired the Castle and he probably built a stone keep on top of the mound and the stone wall and towers around the bailey. Only one tower, now attached to the Hanbury Arms public house, still survives.

At the end of the 13th century it was held by the de Clares and enjoyed relative stability.

The castle was probably destroyed during the rebellions of Owain Glyndwr (1400 - 1405) and according to John Leyland, visiting Caerleon circa 1536, it was then in ruins. William Coxe in "An Historical Tour of Monmouthshire" in 1801 has illustrations of a collapsing tower and other defences. Much of the castle stonework was removed in the 19th century during building work.

- Chronology -

1031 Death of Jestyn ap Owain who held Caerleon. Succeeded by Gruffydd ap Rhydderch.

1081 Death of Caradawg ap Gruffydd, last king of Gwent. Succeeded by his son Owain Wan (Owain the Weak). King William I visited Wales. Robert de Chandos obtained Caerleon from Owain Wan. The Castle Mound at Caerleon probably dates from this time.

1086 The Domesday Book states that Turstin fitz Rolf held Caerleon Castle for William Scohies.

1087 Death of William I.

1136 Death of Henry I. Morgan and Iorwerth, the sons of Owain Wan seized Usk and Caerleon Castles.

1158 Death of Morgan. Succeeded by Iorwerth.

1171 Iorwerth dispossessed by Henry II.

1173 Iorwerth regained the Castle.

1175 (Llantarnum Abbey founded by Howel ap Iorwerth).

1184 Howel ap Iorwerth (Sir Howel of Caerleon) already succeeded to the Lordship of Caerleon.

- - - - Meredydd ap Howel (resigned the lordship).

c.1210 Morgan brother of Meredydd held Caerleon.

1217 William Marshall captured Caerleon Castle after a siege. Work begun on a stone castle.

1219 Death of William Marshall.

1233 Morgan ordered to restore the Castle to Richard Marshall.

1234 Castle attacked and burnt to the ground by Morgan.

1236 Morgan received back some of his lands.

1245 Caerleon passed to the de Clares.

1248 Death of Morgan. Succeeded by his brother, Meredydd ap Gruffydd.

1273 Gilbert de Clare dispossessed Meredydd of Caerleon Castle.

1295 Gilbert de Clare (Gilbert the Red) died.

1315 Castle and town of Caerleon delivered to Matilda, wife of the late Gilbert de Clare.

1322 Hugh le Despenser the Younger gifted the town and Castle.

1326 Despenser executed and his lands seized by the crown.

1466 William Herbert, First Earl of Pembroke, appointed Steward of the King's Lordship of Usk and Caerleon, and Constable of the Castles of Usk and Caerleon.

1595 Henry Herbert, Second Earl of Pembroke.

1603 William Herbert, Third Earl of Pembroke.

1683 Philip Herbert, Seventh Earl of Pembroke, died.

1722 Thomas, Viscount Windsor, (son-in-law of Philip Herbert) sold the lordship of Caerleon to John Burgh. By this time the manorial rights were greatly eroded.

Caerleon Net
[Mynde Index]  [Caerleon Castle Index]  [The Mynde House]
[Home]  [History Index]  [Search]