Saturday 30th June 2018

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Pennard Castle is a ruined castle, near the modern village of Pennard on the Gower Peninsula, in south Wales. The castle was built in the early 12th century as a timber ringwork following the Norman invasion of Wales. The walls were rebuilt in stone by the Braose family at the turn of the 13th and 14th centuries, including a stone gatehouse. Soon afterwards, however, encroaching sand dunes caused the site to be abandoned and it fell into ruin.

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The Normans began to make incursions into South Wales from the late-1060s onwards, pushing westwards from their bases in recently occupied England. Their advance was marked by the construction of castles and the creation of regional lordships. Pennard Castle was built at the start of the 12th century after Henry de Beaumont, the Earl of Warwick, conquered the Gower Peninsula and made Pennard one of his demesne manors.

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Three Cliff Bay, is a bay on the south coast of the Gower Peninsula in the City and County of Swansea, Wales. The bay takes its name from the three sea cliffs that jut out into the bay. Pennard Pill, a large stream, flows into the sea in the middle of the bay.

Inland about 500 yards from the main beach on high ground above Pennard Pill is Pennard Castle. It was built in the early 12th century[citation needed], and is imbued with legends of fairies.

Individual beaches that make up this bay have their own names, including Pobbles Bay to the east of the Three Cliffs, and Tor Bay to the west. The beaches are separated at high tide but are accessible to each other at low tide on foot over the sands. Paths lead north to Pennard Burrows, east to Pobbles, and west to Tor Bay. Pobbles and Tor Bay are also accessible from the beach at low tide. Three Cliffs Bay is effectively part of the inlet of Oxwich Bay. At low tide, Three Cliffs Bay forms a continuous sandy beach with Oxwich Bay beach to the west. They only exist as separate beaches at high tide.

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The castle was constructed on a limestone spur, overlooking the mouth of the Pennard Pill stream and Three Cliffs Bay, and was protected to the north and west by surrounding cliffs. The fortification initially took the form of an oval-shaped ringwork, 34 by 28 metres (112 by 92 ft), with a defensive ditch and ramparts around the outside, and a timber hall in the centre. A local church, St Mary’s, was built just to the east and a settlement grew up around the site; a rabbit warren was established in the nearby sand dunes. In the early 13th century, a simple stone hall, approximately 18.6 by 7.6 metres (61 by 25 ft), was built on the site of the older timber building, using red-purple sandstone with white limestone detailing.

Around the turn of the 13th and 14th centuries, while the castle was controlled by William and his son, also called William, the timber defences were replaced.

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A thin stone curtain wall, approximately 8 metres (26 ft) tall with battlements, replaced the palisades, with the mural defences including a square tower on a rocky spur on the west side, and a circular tower on the north-west corner. A gatehouse was built as the new entrance, with two half-circular towers that possibly imitated those of regional castles such as Caerphilly; it was weakly defended by a portcullis and a handful of arrow loops. The new walls were built from a mixture of red sandstone rubble, probably quarried locally, and limestone dug from the castle site itself. The Braoses may have rebuilt Pennard as a replacement for their castle at nearby Penmaen which was abandoned at around the same time due to encroaching sand dunes.

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The peninsula of Gower, extending 16 miles westwards between Swansea and Carmarthen bays, is a remnant of the Armorican fold system that at one time formed continuous mountain ranges—the front of Meso-Europe—along the southern borders of Wales. Its coastal outline and trend are a reflection of the earth-movements its rocks have suffered, while its inland topography is also largely determined by the strike of the rock outcrops. Apart from insignificant Triassic outliers in the south-west of the peninsula, the solid geology is wholly Upper Palaeozoic. Coal Measures crop out along its north-eastern border and in the coalfield to the north, but are elsewhere absent. The greater part of the peninsula is a plateau of Carboniferous Limestone, complexly folded, in which synclines of Millstone Grit shales form embayments and depressions at Oystermouth, Oxwich, and Port Eynon, and above which the anticlinal cores are marked by the monadnock hills of Old Red Sandstone—Cefn Bryn and the western downs.

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