Penyard Castle

The slight remains of Western under Penyard castle (SO.618.226) lie at the south-east end of a sloping plateau some 1½ miles south-south-east of the village in the southernmost part of Herefordshire. The site itself appears to have been greatly altered by post medieval re-modelling, stone robbing and nineteenth century 'excavations'. The remains today consist of a block of buildings stretching from north to south. To the south of this is the shallow remnant of a ditch which covers the south and south-west sides of the site. To the west is higher ground which overlooks the whole site to some degree. The earliest masonry remains seem to be the shattered remains of a rectangular structure to the south (in black on plan). Only the south-east and north-east corners of this building survive above ground level. These surviving fragments are of a fine quality ashlar, some four and a half feet in width, apparently the minimum considered defensible in the Middle Ages. The south part of this consists of the remains of a gate to the north and a wall running south towards the ditch. This fragment has now slipped south and east on its foundations. The wall appears to have continued west and then north to a roughly rectangular foundation which was said to have been a stairway to an undercroft. Another pit north-east of this, outside this supposed building, is meant to be an undercroft as well. At the north-east corner of this structure is another angle that has a fine batter and another thinner wall running off to the east. This would tend to suggest that the original castle, of probably the late thirteenth century, consisted of a rectangular 'tower' or possibly small courtyard with a further courtyard to the east. The rubble filled mound at the south-east corner of the site may well indicate the remnants of a tower. 

At a later date a series of buildings were added to the north of these Medieval structures. These now seem to consist of a ruined farmhouse of at least four separate builds, which appears to have had some fragments of the older castle built into it. To the west of the old castle are the jumbled remains of foundations which demand further examination before their purpose can be suggested. Since this was written the Hereford and Worcester Archaeology Department have done a full survey of the castle. Results are not yet published, but they apparently agree with this interpretation of the castle remains. The history of the site is dealt with in Taylor, E., 'Field Meeting at Weston Under Penyard', Herefordshire Archaeological News 60 [1993], 20-23.

Copyright©1994-2004 Paul Martin Remfry

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