ardiff Castle was originally a Roman fort. The Normans created a motte and bailey style castle on the same site in around 1080 or 1090. Robert Fitzhamon was responsible for the castle's construction at this time. Robert Curthose was captured by his elder brother, Henry I King of England, and imprisoned at Cardiff Castle where he died in 1134. In 1158 the Welsh leader Ifor Bach attacked the castle and kidnapped William Fitzcount, the Lord of Glamorgan, along with his family. Ifor Bach demanded the return of land that had been taken from him before releasing the Lord. The wooden castle was replaced with stone by Robert the Consul during the twelfth century. Robert built a shell keep at the top of the motte which still survives. The de Clare family had control of the castle during the thirteenth century and under the leadership of Gilbert de Clare improved the defences ever further. The Despenser family took control of the castle in early years of the fourteenth century. It was during this period that the castle was attacked by the Welsh in the uprising led by Owain Glyndwr. Later the Earls of Warwick took ownership of the castle..


Cardiff Castle Key Facts
CountyCardiff (1 castle)
DirectionsWithin the city of Cardiff just to the north of the Millennium Stadium.
CategoriesMotte & Bailey / Stone / Shell Keep
RemainsNot complete but much survives
Access to siteOnly open at certain times


YearMonthEvent
1081   Cardiff Castle construction
 William the Conqueror may have ordered the creation of a castle at Cardiff during his tour of Southern Wales. The first castle on the site would have been a motte and bailey type and it was built on the site of existing Roman fortifications.[1]

Episode: Norman Conquest  
1134   Death of Robert Curthose
 Robert Curthose, William the Conqueror's eldest son, died in captivity in Cardiff Castle where he had been locked up since being defeated by his brother in 1106. Robert was buried in Gloucester Cathedral where there is an effigy of him still. 
1158   Cardiff Castle attack
 Welsh leader Ifor Bach attacked the castle and kidnapped William Fitzcount, the Lord of Glamorgan, along with his family.[2] 
1404   Cardiff sacked by Glyndwr
 Owain Glyndwr attacked and captured the town of Cardiff and its castle.[1]

Episode: Glendowers Revolt  

Motte and Bailey Castles

Virtual reconstruction

The Norman Conquerors built their castles in locations where they could keep control of the local populations of Saxons or at important locations such as river crossings or on key roads. Many motte and bailey castles were built on the border with Wales to try and keep the Welsh at bay. The advantage of this type of castle was that it was quick to construct. Making a fortification from wood was much easier than making one of stone.

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