Deep in the heart of the beautiful Gower Peninsular, a coastal area in South Wales, U.K, lies the village of Pennard. On the outskirts of the village, overlooking the stunning Three Cliffs Bay, lie the ruins of Pennard Castle. The earth and timber, ringwork castle was built in the early twelfth century, after the Normans invaded Wales. By the fourteenth century the castle walls had been rebuilt using stone. A settlement developed around the castle and a church was known to have existed within this settlement.
Pennard Castle – History
There is no evidence to suggest that Pennard Castle was ever attacked. Historians believe that due to sandstorms in the area, sand dunes built up around the castle, probably causing irreparable damage which led to the castle and surrounding area becoming abandoned. All that exists today are the castle ruins and a single wall from the church.
The Verry Volk
Although little is known about the history of Pennard Castle, there is plenty of local legend associated with the castle, which paints a colorful picture of times past. One of the most well-known fables tells of the Verry Volk or Fairies of Gower.
The legend states that the Lord of the castle was a great warrior chief known for his skills in battle. During a time of war, he received a message from a Prince who promised him a reward of his choice in exchange for his help in winning a battle. Once the battle had been won the Lord chose the Prince’s beautiful daughter as his reward. The Prince had no choice but to agree as he had given his word. The Prince’s daughter agreed to marry the Lord and he organized a great feast for his wedding night.
In the middle of the night, whilst the celebrations continued, the guards heard music coming from outside the castle. On investigation, they saw fairies carrying lamps and dancing to the music as they approached the castle. They had come to join in the wedding celebrations but the Lord, in a drunken rage at the disturbance, attacked the fairies. This angered the fairies and they exacted their revenge by bringing about a terrible storm which whipped up mounds of sand around the castle, destroying it in the process. The sand dunes still exist today. It has been said that around the time of the sandstorm a large amount of sand disappeared from Ireland.
There a few variations of this story but they all tell of a Wedding feast and fairies conjuring up a storm as revenge for the way in which they were treated. Some say the people fled, others say that they were suffocated by the sand.
A haunting at Pennard Castle
There are other legends which have been told about Pennard Castle. One of these was that a Wizard built the castle overnight to keep himself safe from attack by the Normans.
There is also a story of a maiden who committed suicide by jumping from the nearby Penrice Hill, into a lake. She supposedly did this after avenging the death of her lover. It has been said that anyone who encounters the ghost of this maiden will go insane.
The castle is also believed to be haunted by the spirit of a winged Witch, known as ‘Gwrach-Y-Rhibyn’ or ‘Hag of the Mist’. This is a Welsh spirit which has been compared to the Irish Banshee and the Scottish Cailleach due to the wailing and screeching sounds that she makes when warning of impending death.
She is described as being a hideous looking woman with stick thin arms and legs, unkempt black hair, sunken eyes, long black teeth, pallid corpse like features, leathery wings and dressed in a long black robe. She is said to claw and peck at anyone who tries to sleep at the place where she resides. Traditionally the Gwrach-Y-Rhibyn is found in or near a source of water. There is a stream which leads up to the sea at three cliffs Bay so there is a source of water in close proximity to the castle. The Spirit which haunts the castle is said to have placed a curse there and anyone who stays therewill not survive the night.
Pennard Castle Is A Tourist attraction
Although there is not much left to see of the castle, this is a popular spot for tourists and locals due to the stunning views. Some visitors claim to have seen fairy rings at the site of the castle’s remains. The fairies are not believed to be harmful to anyone but it would be unwise to upset them. Even though this a beautiful site to visit it is unlikely anyone would choose to spend the night there if they are aware of the legends of Pennard Castle!!