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Castell Fartin

aka Manorowen, Maenorowen and Parc Castell

Ordnance Survey map reference SM 943 367. Coordinates 51 29' 26" W, 4 59" 47" N.

Photographs, plan and text copyright by John Northall

With acknowledgements to The Royal Commision on Ancient and Historic Monuments in Wales
and Castles of Pembrokeshire by Dillwyn Miles.

Above: the earthwork remains of Castell Fartin lie hidden within Old Castle Plantation.

This small earthwork castle has been identifed as Castell Fartin (not to be confused with the motte and bailey at Castlemartin in south Pembrokeshire) and may have been built during the Norman expansion into West Wales following the death of Rhys ap Tewdwr in 1093. It is situated close to the village of Manorowen at the eastern border of the ecclesiastical lordship of Pebidiog, in a field known as Parc Castell, and was probably the administrative centre of the commote of Maenorowen.

The castle seems to have been situated within an earlier Iron age hilltop enclosure, as suggested by a double bank and ditch on its least damaged northern side and the slight counterscarp bank that runs along the thickly wooded east side of the hill, which is largely outside the much smaller medieval site.

The medieval enclosure survived by being hidden within the trees of Old Castle Plantation when the majority of the Iron age earthworks were presumably destroyed by agricultural activity, although the south-western side of the enclosure has been badly damaged and is difficult to interpret.

The eastern bank of the earthwork was built on a steep ridge overlooking a small river.

It appears the northern corner of the iron age earthwork was thickened into a D shaped motte or partial ringwork 65 feet long by 50 feet wide, overlooking natural slopes to the north and east. The mound stands around 12 feet high but its summit has been badly disturbed through tree growth and would originally have been higher. There are some slight remains of an additional bank on the more vulnerable south-west side of the inner enclosure or motte.

The badly damaged southern side of the castle, looking north towards Goodwick.

The remains of the northern outer bank continue for a few yards into the field to the west of the woodland before dissappearing due to the effects of ploughing. At its least disturbed point, the ditch between the inner and outer banks is around 10 feet wide and 4 feet deep.

In the northern ditch, the best preserved part of the castle earthworks.

 

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