I have often mentioned Swansea Castle and Oystermouth Castle, but there are several other castles in Gower. The stone ruins seen today were all built by the Normans in the 13th and 14th centuries, mostly to replace earlier wooden structures.
Pennard Castle (Wikimedia)
The story of Pennard Castle is a sad one. Here it is in legend form:
Here, in the days of old, lived a hardy chieftain. In houses round lived his warriors. A prince of Northern Wales had a quarrel with his neighbours, and sought the aid of Pennard's lord. After the battle the prince asked what was the reward that the chieftain desired, and he replied his daughter's hand in marriage. That night the walls of the castle sounded with mirth, but suddenly a strange sound came to their ears. A dark cloud came driving up the channel, then another and another. Faster and faster they came, till the air was thick with choking sand. Soon the whole place was devastated.
The legend goes on to relate that 'from a spot in Ireland a huge mountain of sand suddenly and mysteriously disappeared.'
The legend could have a basis in fact, since John de Breos, the Lord of Gower, married Margaret, the daughter of Llywelyn ab Iorwerth, prince of Wales. His grandson William married the daughter of Nicholas of Castell Moel, Carmarthen, in 1306. A great sandstorm evidently took place at the beginning of that century, as this William de Breos grants the sandy waste of Pennard to William, his huntsman, showing it was of no further use to him.
The castle is perched on the edge of the valley of Pennard Pill, with a sheer drop below to the north and west. It is a beautiful situation with sweeping views out to sea and across the valley. The encroachment of the sand was totally unforseen. The castle and the surrounding village were abandoned by the end of the 14th century.
A search of the ruins has revealed no roofing material, no timber, no slate or tile, leading to the possibility that the castle was never actually finished.
In addition to the sand, the repeated incidents of the plague decimated the population and left many farms tenantless. A great extent of land in Pennard was given towards the foundation of St David's Hospital, Swansea in the 14th century.