I visited Manorbier castle for the first time just a few days before writing this, and it has already become one of my favourites out of the dozens of castles I have visited in this country.
The first thing you notice about the castle is the strange layout of features, such as a huge fire hearth chimney which stands in the middle of the grounds with no visible other foundations around to suggest what it actually heated.
The first part of the castle was built during the early 12th century by William de Barri after he inherited the land from his father Odo de Barri, who had constructed a motte and bailey style fort on the same spot.
William only built a few walls and a main defensive tower which can still be seen today, with a very noticeable continuous vertical join either side where later features were connected to it. In 1146 Gerald of Wales, the famous scholar was born in a room at the castle and later wrote how it was his favourite spot in the whole country.
The castle was only ever attacked twice during it life, with the first being in 1327 by Richard de Barri who attacked the castle after he was cut out of its inheritance, but was unable to capture it. The next time was when Oliver Cromwell attacked in 1645 and seized the castle after a fairly small skirmish. After that Cromwell did what he was famous for and destroyed the castle to a point were it would be useless as a defensive structure.
After this it stood abandoned and the remains left to decay until some minor restoration work was done in 1880 by a tenant who rented out the property.
Today the castle is open to the public and also features a cottage inside the walls available to rent. There are also some interesting sites nearby such as the castle dovecote which is around 700 years old, and an ancient burial tomb, which just consists of a large boulder placed on supporting stones which has been dated to around 3000 BC.
Strangely enough there is only thought to be one ghost at the castle, though some of the more minor activity may be caused by several weaker spirits.
Since Gerald of Wales was such an important character in Welsh history and spoke so fondly of his place of birth, its not wonder he has chosen to remain in his home. There is a small room just to the right of the main entrance which was the chamber were he was born, and its within this space he likes to make his presence known.
Currently the room has a display in it which features a bedroom layout of the time he lived at the castle, objects in the room are known to constantly change place, with the bed sometimes being found in the morning with the quilt swept aside, as if someone had spent the night in it.
The other nearby site which is thought to be haunted is the dove cote. This is a simply tower type building about 25 feet tall, and filled with 250 holes where the birds used to live. This was the only constant source of red meat throughout the year for the residents of the castle and belonged to the lord, the penalty of which if you stole from was death.
These deaths are thought to be the reason behind the intense emotions which overcome people who stand within its walls. Being overcome with a sudden feeling of panic or sadness are often felt in here, for some reason always by men only.