The impressive ruins of Oystermouth Castle are the best preserved castle remains on the Gower Peninsula. Most of the castle structure seen today dates from the late 13th century and the early 14th century, however the castle site has been occupied since the beginning of the 12th century.
Oystermouth Castle is open to the public during the tourist season, for a smalll entrance fee, and provides visitors with a good couple of hours exploration with superb views over Swansea, Swansea Bay and Mumbles.
The castle underwent significant conservation work during 2010-2011 to improve accessibility and ensure the structure remains safe for future generations. Hidden features of the castle were uncovered during the restoration and conservation, such as 14th century grafitti and staircases leading from the vaults to the previous banqueting halls. Oystermouth Castle was reopened to the public on 16th July 2011.
The castle is the responsibility of the City and County of Swansea and supervised by the Friends of Oystermouth Castle.
The history of the castle is intricately linked with that of Swansea Castle. In 1106, Henry de Beaumont, Earl of Warwick, became the first Norman Lord of Gower and to reward his followers he parceled out the rich farming land of his new property amongst them, building a castle for himself at Swansea in the meantime.
William de Londres and his family were given Oystermouth, where they founded the first castle at this site, probably of a simple ringwork and bailey structure. The male line of the de Londres family ended by 1184 however, and the Lord of Gower took possession of Oystermouth Castle, adding it to the castles he already owned at Swansea, Loughor and Pontarddulais. Impressed by both its position and structure, it was not long before Oystermouth Castle became the chief residence for the Earl of Warwick and for the future lords of Gower who succeeded him.
The early fortification founded here by William de Londres, was continually modified and improved upon throughout history, as successive Welsh uprisings kept destroying their earlier counterparts.
The White Lady of Oystermouth Castle
Attached to the castle is the ghostly tale of a young woman who is sometimes seen wandering around the castle’s forbidding exterior walls. The apparition is usually reported each time to be crying inconsolably and wearing a white garment that is torn at the back, revealing large and bloody wounds.
A man, letting his dog off its lead to have a run around the castle's spacious grounds, was surprised to see his pet suddenly race towards him from behind a tree in obvious terror. Curious as to what had caused the animal's fright, the man walked over to the tree where he saw what he at first figured to be a large white sheet resting on the grass near the trunk of the tree. As he approached the sheet, however, it suddenly emerged from the ground and took the form of a woman wearing a white robe. She then faded from sight like dissolving mist.
On another occasion the young children of a family picnicking on the castle grounds appeared from behind a tree screaming. When asked what had frightened them, they explained they had seen a scary lady dressed in a long white robe with a cord fastened around her waist. She appeared to the children as if she had been sobbing, although she had made no sound whatsoever. When the children's father went to the tree to see the woman in white for himself, the figure turned her back to the man to reveal her back bleeding profusely from open lacerations.
It has been suggested by witnesses that it looked as though she had been the poor victim of a severe whipping. Inside Oystermouth Castle's dungeon, the remains of a whipping post may still be seen to this day.