Barry Castle is a small fortified manor house dating from the 13th Century. It was home to the powerful de Barry family who participated in the conquests of England, Wales and Ireland.
The Norman knight Odo assisted in the conquest of England in the 11th Century. As a reward for his military service he was granted extensive lands around Pembrokeshire and the town of Barry.
Odo's grandson writing in the 13th Century, Gerald of Wales, records that Odo took his family name from the town and island of Barry and thus founded a family that would resonate in Wales and Ireland.
The de Barry family in Wales had their seat at nearby Manorbier Castle and they would later help with the invasion of Ireland. Their service in there saw them rewarded with extensive lands in the Kingdom of South Munster (the area around Cork). The family became rich and powerful and constructed numerous castles, with their principal seat at Barryscourt Castle.
The original castle in the town of Barry was probably an earthwork or ringwork built on top of an earlier Roman site. The first stone building on the site was probably constructed by Lucas de Barry in the 13th Century.
In 1316 Llywelyn Bren led a revolt against King Edward II of England and attacked a number of castles as part of his campaign. Barry Castle didn't escape and was badly damaged.
John de Barry is credited with the reconstruction of the castle and it is mainly his buildings that we see today.
John added a large hall and gatehouse on the south side of the castle. The final building was still little more than a fortified manor house, but it would have offered some protection against a future revolt.
Inside the gatehouse was a passageway equipped with a portcullis and drawbridge. On the first floor was a small room which would have held the portcullis mechanism and possibly a chapel.
The south range includes a spacious great hall on its first floor. There used to be a staircase which led up to wall-walk level and from there defenders could get into the gatehouse room.
Barry Castle was abandoned and by the 16th Century was already a ruin. During the English Civil War it is possible that the castle was put back into use with the gatehouse being partly rebuilt. Whatever actually happened it wasn't put back into use and was allowed to fall into decay.
Today Barry Castle is quite ruinous. It is possible to see the gatehouse and its chapel window, some remains of the south range and the east section of the curtain wall. The property is under the care of Cadw and the local authority. There is free access to the castle which can be found just off Park Road.
There are no facilities at Barry Castle, however the town centre and railway station are just a short walk away.
Status: Ruin / Monument
Opening Times: Free access
The main gatehouse at Barry Castle
Gatehouse and south range at Barry Castle