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Parishes R (castles)

Ross Rural: Penyard Castle

Historic Environment Record reference no. 919, Ordnance Survey grid reference: SO 6181 2258

Lying near the top of Penyard Hill, and 2.5km south-east of Ross parish church, are the remains of a block of buildings stretching north to south.

Description of the Penyard Castle site today

The surviving remains on the site are complex. Dating from at least the later half of the 14th century, it was obviously ruined when the existing 17th century house was built, incorporating part of the earlier buildings.

The remains are stone and form the south and west part of the existing house. Immediately adjacent on the south and extending to the west are the remains of a 14th century undercroft of at least four rooms. About 6m wide, it contains the bases of some chamfered responds and a fireplace still remains.

About 8m west of the house and parallel to it are the foundations of a thick wall. Further to the west are fragments of walling, including the remains of a small flight of stairs and a doorway with a chamfered jamb and two-centred head.

The remains on the site stand on a natural terrace with a scarped enclosure on the south and east sides, with part of the ditch still evident on the south-west.

There are no intelligible remains of a castle or earthworks, although this site was well fitted for the defence of a narrow passage through the woods from Gloucester towards Monmouth and Pembroke.

Foundation and history of the Penyard Castle site

13th century: Penyard belonged to the Talbots. Penyard may have been in the possession of the Talbots prior to this date, as we have evidence of a grant made by Henry II in 1156 to Richard Talbot, who held the neighbouring parish of Eccleswall.

The location, surrounded by woodland yet holding a good defensive position, gave it increased value to a feudal lord who liked to divide his time between hunting and war.

15th century: Sir Lewis Talbot was seated at Penyard.

16th century: The discovery of a silver penny at Penyard has confirmed that there was a mint at the site during the 16th century.

1740: Penyard castle was sold.

Rowlstone: motte

HER no. 1481, OS grid ref: SO 3750 2718

Rowlstone is in the south-west of the county, 2km from Ewyas Harold Castle. The mound is located 100m north-east of St. Peter's Church. The name Rowlstone comes from Rolueston, which means "Rolf's estate", probably a late manorial name (Bruce Coplestone-Crow, Herefordshire Place-Names, British Archaeological Reports British Series 214, 1989, p. 175).

Description of the Rowlestone site today

The mound is 36m in diameter at its base and rises 4m above the bottom of a ditch to a flat top. The ditch is dry on the north and the north-east, and surrounds the mound with a width of 6m and depth of 2m. The south side of the ditch opens out onto low-lying ground.

There are no stone remains or evidence of a bailey embankment. Most likely this is the site of an early Border castle.