Monday, 25 September 2017
Medieval Gower Stories: The Ensanding of Pennard Castle
The exciting news about Medieval Gower Stories is that it has gone to the printer! I’m just waiting while they inspect the file and let me know if everything is acceptable, and finalise the quote. Then they will give me the deadline for when the books will be ready. I am still wrestling with the ebook fomatting, but hopefully can load it into Amazon this week. The physical book launch will be next month, but I want the books ready before I decide on the date. To whet your appetite a bit more, here is one of the stories from the book.
The Ensanding of Pennard Castle
Pennard Castle in Gower is perched on a limestone spur overlooking the mouth of Pennard Pill stream and Three Cliffs Bay, with a sheer drop below to the north and west. It's a beautiful situation with sweeping views out to sea and across the valley. But the story of the castle is a sad one.
The story is told that a chieftain used to live in Pennard Castle with his warriors. The Prince of Gwynedd, North Wales, asked him for help in a battle with his neighbours and offered him any reward he wanted. The chieftain marched his men north to take part in the battle. The Prince was successful, though the battle was fierce and blood-thirsty.
Afterwards the Prince repeated his offer and asked the chieftain what he wanted as a reward. The chieftain asked the prince for his daughter's hand in marriage, which was granted. To celebrate the victory the chieftain held a great feast in the grounds of the castle, ordering everyone to join in the festivities.
While they were celebrating there was an unusual noise and a sentry reported seeing strange lights along the sands of Three Cliffs Bay. The chieftain was furious that his celebrations were being spoiled. Grabbing his sword and ordering his army to follow, the chieftain raced down from the castle to give battle to the trespassers who had dared to disturb his victory party.
The trespassers turned out to be a group of fairies, dancing around the moonbeams which sparkled along the bay. When the chieftain and his army ran into their party waving their swords, the fairies became angry and called to the chief:
‘Stop your warring ways. You cannot harm us with your swords and spears. Cursed shall you and your castle be for spoiling our innocent game!’
The fairies then disappeared and the chieftain and his men became afraid. Looking over the sea, they saw a great sand storm descending from the sky towards them. One dark cloud after another raced up the channel, driving sand through the air. Running for their lives, it was only moments before they all succumbed to the choking sand that roared and tore about them and eroded the masonry.
When the sun next arose, Pennard Castle had become ruined forever in the avalanche of sand which had engulfed it. When the word spread about what had happened it was discovered that a huge mountain of sand had disappeared from a spot in Ireland!
The legend could have a basis in fact, since in 1219 John de Braose, the Lord of Gower, married Margaret, the daughter of Llywelyn the Great, Prince of Gwynedd in the north. John's 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 Braose granted the sandy waste of Pennard to William, his huntsman, showing it was of no further use to him.
Whatever the truth of the matter, the encroachment of the sand was totally unforseen. Pennard Castle and the surrounding village were totally abandoned by the end of the 14th century, and fell into ruin, as had Penmaen Castle over a century before. The last thing to be abandoned was St Mary's Church which was left to the sands in 1532. Restoration work was carried out during the course of the 20th century and the remains of the castle are now protected under UK law as a Grade II* listed building.
Ann Marie Thomas is the author of three medieval history books, a surprisingly cheerful poetry collection about her 2010 stroke, and the science fiction series Flight of the Kestrel. Book one, Intruders, is out now. Follow her at http://eepurl.com/bbOsyz