Welcome back to pinned on places, today we are visiting Wiston Castle as part of our south wales walking tours. Keep reading on as us as we discover a small, lesser known motte and bailey castle keep in the Pembrokeshire village area.
A few things about Wiston, it’s a great examples of a motte and bailey castle because it is one of only six to have kept a stone shell keep on its summit. The castle keep is situated on a high hill around 40 feet high and surrounded by a deep ditch with an adjoining bailey. The shell keep was built in the late 12th or early 13th century but only now the lowest level remains standing at around 10 feet high.
The castle was twice captured by the welsh in 1147 and in 1193 but each time was taken back into English control. Both the town of Wiston and the castle were badly damaged in 1220 and its not know if the castle was re built after this time. Later on it was replaced by a new residence of an old manor house that was rebuilt in the 18th century next to the castle motte.
The castle was founded in the early twelfth century by Wizo, a Flemish mercenary. Much of his whereabouts and his origins are unclear but he is linked to queen Matilida, who is the Flemish wife of William the conqueror. it is said that he was granted land in Pembrokeshire, south west wales by the Anglo Norman king Henry the 1st who had previously wrestled control of the land from its previous owner in a dispute.
It was originally built from earth and timber and also earth ramparts that exist since the iron age. Many rebuilds later in 1220, wooden fortifications of the motte were reconstructed into a 16 sided stone wall which is the shell keep. It closed an inner courtyard with a semi-circular gate portal on the south side an on either side of this you’ll see draw bar holes which would have been used to secure the gate. Some of the internal buildings remain as damaged rubble ruins but it is difficult to make out just exactly what room is what but also great to think about too.
There are roughly 50 steps leading up to the castle keep, it is free to enter and open at all reasonable times, another added bonus was the lovely cows that roam freely around the site, its funny how curious they were of us walking there land but they made the trip there memorable. Its worth visiting if you are en route towards Picton castle or Haverfordwest Priory, we visited Llawhaden castle after Wiston, so keep checking back to watch our latest video and keep an eye on our Instagram page for more updates.
There is parking near the site, outside the Priory entrance which is fine for a short stop off whilst you enter inside the castle ruins, there is also a noticeboard just outside that has a handy leaflet giving you a short history about the castle ruins and why it is there, so be sure to pick one up on your way.