This week Barry and District reader’s, we visit that iconic Barry castle again and we ponder over a different aspect of this castle.
Many argue that Barry Castle is not really a castle at all, in fact it is just a Manor House. But for me it always shall be a castle.
Why? Well the local population; the vulgaris – the common people, in the 1100s, would have never seen such a building
like Barry Castle ever being constructed; in their entire lifetimes. Most people in the medieval period would have never strayed more than five miles from their homes in their hard existence.
Therefore Barry castle to them – in the 1100 and 1200s – would have been the tallest most grand standing structure, and biggest in their worlds.
Another reason for Barry Castle being just that [a castle] is it was constructed using lime mortar between the stone work. This was expensive to produce; large amounts of wood and coal would have to be burnt in kilns to produce quicklime.
The peasants houses only used clay from the banks of harbours and streams that they could salvage.
Even the Lord who held Highlight manor could only afford clay between his stonework.
Oh yes, there is one obvious reason why we can call Barry a castle: there is nothing
like it in the Barry and District, not even in Cadoxton. The nearest castle in Penmark to the North west and Sully to the East. Barry castle was built to impress everyone.
The castle would have been whitewashed, it looked out towards the sea, and as the sun
radiated off the walls it could be seen for miles around.
Believe me its 15 metre tall walls would have been amazing to see; towering over the landscape. But now the view from the castle all around is of modern housing.
The castle was built not only with local quarried stone, but stone that had come from Ogmore-By-Sea via a ship – 20 miles away.
This stone would have been brought in via a local harbour that was not far away, in fact where Romilly Park is today.
The castle was much larger than it is today, and I don’t even think we know its fullest extent.
To defend the castle would not have required more than half a dozen soldiers. The reason for the defences was to protect the defenders, and behind those thick walls the small garrison could have kept safe for some time.
There would have been a whole store room stocked with food and a well to drink out of.
If anyone has any questions about our amazing Barry and District heritage that I could answer next week, please e-mail me at [email protected]
By Karl-James Langford