Pwlldu Bay

Pwlldu is one of Gower's more remote and sheltered beaches. Protected from rough currents by the curious rock formation, the Needles, at the western end of the bay, Pwlldu possesses one of the safest bathing environments on the peninsula. That said, its maritime history records as heavy a toll of shipwrecks and nautical disasters as any of Gower's more treacherous stretches of coastline.

Pwlldu Bay

The Caesar wreck

One wreck in particular is worth mentioning in detail here. The Caesar, wrecked here on November 28th 1760, had such an impact on the area that both the name of the ship and the tragic fate of its crew are recorded on Ordnance Survey and other detailed maps of the area for posterity.

During the mid 18th century, it was not uncommon for the Navy to scour Gower and other rural communities around the British coast, to force the community's labourers, farm workers and quarry men into the navy.  Impressment or press gangs were a legal method for the government to force men into the naval forces during times of war. These poor souls would then be secured by battening them below deck of the naval ship, ready to be taken off to war.

The Caesar was an Admiralty tender ship on such a mission, en route from Bristol to Plymouth when rough sea conditions on the channel drove it against the headland of Pwlldu. Although a few officers of the ship escaped with their lives, around 90 press ganged men all imprisoned below deck on the ship, were not so lucky.

The following morning, news of the incident spread through Pwlldu, Bishopston and Pennard, attracting hundreds of villagers to the spot, now known as Caesar's Hole, in the hope of salvaging some precious cargo from the wreck.

Despite their rather mercenary reason for attending the wreck, the villagers dragged the wretched bodies of the press ganged men from the ship's hold to give them a Christian funeral in the nearest gully, where the soil had enough depth to commit such a large-scale burial. The communal grave was then marked with a ceremonial circle of limestone rocks. The site is still visible today and known as Grave's End.

Grave's End

Grave's End

Grave's End is reputed to possess an unwelcoming atmosphere, as though it were haunted by the awful fate of the poor men who, having first lost their freedom, then lost their lives in the most dreadful of circumstances. The area is one of the most loneliest spots on the Gower Peninsula, its cheerless ambience and difficulty of access both being reasons why few visit.

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