Wiston Castle - Sarah Woodbury

Wiston Castle

Wiston Castle is located in the Welsh kingdom of Deheubarth, in South Wales. It’s one of the best-preserved motte and bailey castles in Wales, built by an early Flemish settler to Deheubarth with the exceptional name of Wizo. (a motte is a small hill, usually fortified, surrounded by an open area, or bailey, inside an outer wall).

Wiston Castle first appears in documents in 1147 when it was attacked by the Welsh, in an attempt to evict the Flemish from Wales. Flemish settlers and fighting men had been brought in by Henry I, actually to counter one of his own barons, Arnaulf de Montgomery. They stayed to be a countering force to the Welsh in the region. Wizo seems to have chosen an existing Iron Age settlement as the basis for his castle. The motte was thrown up across the bank of the earlier settlement, and a gateway was created on the north-eastern side of the original defences. The large bailey likely housed the town and the iron-age defenses would have provided them with protection. The Welsh attacked again in 1193, this time led by Hywel Sais (son of The Lord Rhys, ruler of this part of Wales and my direct ancestor).

All that remains is the stone shell-keep. It is mostly intact except for a section to the north possibly brought down when Llywelyn Fawr attacked the site in 1220 and destroyed the castle for good. Watch out for the cows when you visit.

My book, The Worthy Soldier, a Gareth & Gwen Medieval Mystery, chronicles the Welsh attack on Wiston in 1147.


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