The Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust Ltd.

Character Areas


061 Pennard

Photo of Pennard

HLCA061 Pennard

Well-preserved post-medieval/medieval agricultural landscape: fossilised medieval/early post-medieval strip fields; dispersed post-medieval agricultural settlement; post-medieval farmsteads/cottage; post-medieval agri- industrial features; isolated medieval church and early ecclesiastical associations. Back to Map

Historic Background

The historic landscape area of Pennard is an area of fieldscape defined by the extent of well-preserved medieval/post-medieval agricultural landscape within the parish of Pennard, which displays little change/amalgamation to the original pre-nineteenth century field mosaic. The tarmaced route to Southgate defines the northern boundary. The area takes in the hamlet of Pennard, but excludes the later expanded settlement of Southgate, dealt with separately under HLCA 062. The area includes a small detached portion of similar character to the west of Southgate. The main eastern boundary lies between the amalgamated holdings of Widegate and those of Kittle and Kittle Hill in the adjacent area.

Pennard is mentioned in 1353, in a list of among 25 fees, assembled by Mowbray, the then Lord of Gower (Nicholl 1936,168). Rice Merrick, writing in the late 16th century records the church at Pennard belonged to All Souls College, and confirms the dedication to St Mary. He also notes the house of Widegate, formerly 'the house of Rheinallt Jenkin(?), whose living was divided among his three daughters.'

The early medieval site known as Llan Arthbodu (00328w, 05260w); a grant of four pieces of land: 'cellam quidem Cyngualan cum sua tota tellure and Cella Arthuodu, Congurique and Penncreic' by Athrwys ap Meurig to Bishop Euddogwy (Davies 1979, 97), a possible monastic cell mentioned in the Book of Llandaff [LL 144; c.650] has been tentatively associated with a field of about eight acres midway between High Pennard and Hunt's Farm known as Bodies Acre on the tithe map. A spring, just outside the area of cultivated land, may have been associated, however this site could easily be associated with the outer enclosure noted at St Mary's, see below (Morgan in RRISW 1924-5, 26; Evans 2003).

The church of St Mary's Pennard (00327w; 400053; LB 11537 II) is set within a quadrangular shaped churchyard (05248w) unchanged from the tithe map, where it lies within a possible outer curvilinear enclosure best marked to the northwest. The present parish church has been considered the later of two medieval churches in Pennard, but this is unproven. The other church close to Pennard Castle was abandoned by the sixteenth century due to besandment and fragments from this site are reputed to have been salvaged and incorporated into the surviving church. The church, restored in 1847, and the chancel arch altered in 1891 and vestry added in 1899, retains substantial medieval fabric and detail (Davies and Toft 1993; Newman 1995, 505-6).

Hardings' History of the Parish of Gower gives a description of the manor from a survey of 1745, whilst the Gabriel Powell Survey of 1764 gives the same details, mentioning a dependency on agriculture and inshore fishing (Harding 2000,11-12; Morris ed 2000, 139-142). During the eighteenth century the general area was associated with smuggling, with a certain William Arthur, tenant of Great Highway Farm between 1783 and 1794, being the notorious leader of a gang of smugglers.

Pennard appears to have developed little in the way of industry, apart from limekilns and limestone quarries. The quarrying of limestone in the Manor is recorded in the Cromwellian survey of 1650. Limestone quarrying for agricultural lime production was carried out on a large scale during the post-medieval period to satisfy the increases in demand for corn and the corresponding need for land improvement during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In addition to numerous limekilns and quarries, the first edition details minor agricultural related features including sawpits (as noted at James Grove).

There is little or no identifiable change to the field pattern or extent of enclosure between the tithe map of 1848 and the first edition 25-inch OS map of 1878. The tithe indicates that consolidation of individual holdings of the former medieval open field system was still in progress; by the mid-19th century the land holdings remain partly fragmented, with farms holding individual or groups of now enclosed stripfields within the areas of what would have been large medieval open field areas divided into quillets or landshares. Both areas of arable and meadow appear to be dispersed in similar ways. Minor amalgamation of smaller enclosures has occurred during the twentieth century.

The settlement pattern/distribution of the area appears to be in place by the late eighteenth century, as indicated on the estate plans, and little change is noted by the tithe, or indeed the survey of the 1st edition 25-inch OS map of 1879, apart from some minor accretions to the existing settlements, which appear to include clusters at Widegate, High Pennard (and Southgate within neighbouring HLCA 062). There is some reduction in the size of the settlement at Widegate, however, by the latter part of the nineteenth century with the apparent abandoning of the original farmstead and other buildings at Widegate, in favour of the farmstead of Widegate Lower (renamed Widegate), a process, which appears to have continued during the twentieth century.

Numerous disused limekilns and associated quarries are depicted on the first edition 25-inch OS map of 1878 throughout the area, but with a notable concentration in the area around the settlement cluster of Widegate. Most of these kilns appear to either have vanished, such as that at Green Lane (02514w), apparently lost to cultivation, or remain unknown in terms of type or condition, including two at Pennard (02516w and 02519w) and Pwll Du Head (02520w). An exception being the kiln at Kilsaran (02286w), noted in a National Trust Survey of particular interest: Toft marks the location of the kiln but apparently found no reference to it on the OS maps. However, a photograph printed in Holt 1996 (p34) shows the remains of a large permanent kiln with two access vents and a crucible. Visible are the two vents, greatly ruined and covered in low vegetation. The roof and the front wall of the kiln appear to have collapsed.