Historical Sites

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Historical Sites to Visit in Gower

If it's history you’re in search of, look no further. The peninsula is inundated with ancient sites from the Neolithic Cromlechs such as Arthur’s stone to the great Norman castles which are scattered around the coast line.

Within a ten minute walk from the B&B you have Giants Grave, a Neolithic  Severn valley tomb and cathole cave, where in 2011 the oldest known cave art in Britain was discovered. A site overlooking the cwm was also recently excavated yielding a large quantity of roman artefacts. A  longer walk (30 mins) will take you to Pen-y-Crug chambered tomb and the nearby iron age hill fort to be found on Penmaen burrows. At the bottom of the drive (1 mile) is the Gower Heritage Centre in Parkmill. It's a great place to visit and begin to get a feel for Gower’s heritage.

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Located just outside the church, the uppermost stone has the tracings of a Celtic cross etched on it.

Admire one of the few surviving fortified manor houses in Wales. Weobley commands panoramic views over the salt marshes of the Burry estuary. Construction of the castle is thought to have begun in the 14th century. Unusually, the porch added by Sir Rhys ap Thomas to provide a more stately entrance to the hall and private quarters in the 16th century, was modified for use as a tenant farmhouse and is still occupied today.

A quartz conglomerate standing stone, 3.2m in height with a base measuring 1.5m by 0.8m.

Located dramatically on the highest ridge in Gower, Sweyne's Howes sometimes called Swine Houses can be found just over the ridge from the World War I encampment on the eastern slopes of the downs. There are two Neolithic chambered tombs (north & south). They were used for communal burial up to 4000 years ago. Surveys have also revealed several likely standing stones south of the site. Rhossili Downs is home to around 30 cairns in total.

Without doubt Gower’s most famous cave, its entrance is 10 metres high by 7 metres wide, with a chimney rising 20 metres from its roof to the daylight. During an excavation In 1823 one of the world's most important archaeological finds was uncovered here, the remains of an adult skeleton that had been covered with red ochre and buried with goods made from bone, antler, ivory and perforated seashell necklaces. Modern tests have dated the remains to 24,000 BC! In all over 4000 worked flints, animal teeth, necklace bones, stone needles and mammoth-ivory bracelets were discovered in the cave, some of which can be viewed in Swansea Museum.

An unusual cave with an interesting history. In the past its entrance has been walled up hiding a number of separate floors and stairways. The name "culver" is thought to be old English and likely to denote a dovecote giving rise to the theory that the cave was walled up to house pigeons - an important food source in the past. Equally there are many stories of the cave being used for Gower’s favourite industry of the past, smuggling!

More accurately a Tudor manor house, the southern wing was built in the 16th century by Sir Rice Mansel, while the much larger multi-storied range with its grand hall and long gallery was completed by Sir Edward Mansel. The castle has a beautiful mock military gateway, complete with the Mansel family crest, leading to an enclosed courtyard. Owned by Cadw. Phone 01792 390359 for opening hours.

Located on Cefn Bryn close to the village of Reynoldston, Arthur's Stone (or Maen Ceti) is one of over 200 cairns located on Cefn Bryn. The capstone is quartz conglomerate, over 4 metres long and 2 meters wide, and weighing over 25 tons. (It is thought to have been deposited here by the glaciers). The tomb was however not excavated until 1870 by Sir Gardiner Wilkinson. It later became one of the first sites to be protected under the Ancient Monuments Act of 1882. The stone has many fascinating legends associated with it.

A 13th century successor to a strong ringwork to the southeast, known as the Mountybank, it was built by the de Penrice family who were originally given land at Penrice for their part in the Norman conquest of Gower. There is no public access to the castle, but it can be viewed at a distance from the footpath running past the 18th century manor house.

The two entrances of Leather’s hole are located high up on Great Tor. A small cave with an entrance height of 3 metres and stretching into the cliff 4 metres, it is not thought to have been inhabited by humans. The bones which were found here including mammoth, woolly rhinoceros, wolf, and hyena.

Commonly called Penmaen Burrows, after its location, this is what remains of an Iron Age burial chamber that would have been used for communal burials between 4000 and 5500 years ago. It may have originally been covered with turf or stones. Known as Pen-y-Crug, it is thought that this may be the earliest site of settlement on the peninsula. The tomb was excavated in 1893 yelding both human and animal bones along with various items of pottery.

Giant's Grave, located in Green Cwm, Parkmill, is a Neolithic (4000-3000 B.C.) tomb belonging to the so-called Severn-Cotswold group. The burial site was first located in 1869 when it was plundered for stone. Re-excavated in 1960-61 by R J C Atkinson, bone fragments belonging to 40 individuals were recovered. All were adults except for three. Also discovered were two rims of Neolithic pottery. Take a look at the rounded stones on the southern corner of the tomb, it is thought the stones were washed by a river which once ran along side the tomb but which has found its way underground into the limestone rocks below.

Set in a spectacular location overlooking Three Cliffs valley, Pennard castle probably dates from the 13th century. It was most probably commissioned by Henry de Beaumont. It is likely that it began life as a ringwork castle built of timber and later rebuilt from local stone in the 13th century by the de Breos family. The castle was famously abandoned around 1400 due to the encroachment of windblown sand brought about (if you believe the local folklore) because the lord forgot to invite the local fairies to a banquet, and as revenge, the little people besieged the castle with sand!

The largest of Gower’s bone caves, but difficult to reach. Excavated on several occasions, revealing extensive finds, including straight-tusked elephant, bison, soft-nosed rhinoceros, cave bear, reindeer, wolf and hyena - now in Swansea museum. Inhabited during the Upper Palaeolithic period, evidence also indicates that the cave was inhabited during both the Romano-British occupation and again in the Dark Ages.

The cave has two entrances, the lower of which can only be reached at low tide. The main entrance is 3 metres wide and 7 metres high, extending back nearly 18 metres into the cliff. A range of remains have been found in the cave - bear, wolf and an incredible 1100 reindeer antlers.

A large bone cave named after the streaks of red mineral deposits found inside the cave, the entrance is over 20 metres wide and you can walk back a good way into the cliff. Finds have indicated that the cave was occupied during both the Iron Age and Romano-British eras. The cave is also an important wintering site for two species of Horseshoe bats.

Founded by William de Londres, the oldest part of this castle dates to the early 12th century. There is a chapel block likely to have been added in the early 14th century, and is usually attributed to Lady Alenora de Mowbray. The castle commands beautiful views over Mumbles and Swansea Bay. With new visitor facilities and educational areas, there is now a 30-foot high glass viewing platform and bridge that leads to Alina's Chapel.

Beginning life in the 12th century as a motte and bailey castle, due to persistent attacks from the Welsh it was rebuilt in stone on the same site in the 1220's, by John de Braose. Extensions were made to the south east corner of the structure known as the new castle in around 1332. Ultimately the castle fell to the Welsh in the rebellion of Owain Glyndwr between 1400-10 and by the late 16th century the castle had fallen into ruin.