The Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust Ltd.

Character Areas


078 Clyne Castle

Photo of Clyne Castle

HLCA078 Clyne Castle

Post-medieval gentry estate, designed park, and woodland landscape: gentry house, and related estate buildings; gardens and ornamental woodland park; Ancient and other woodland: woodland management features; industrial remains; medieval deer park; minor relict agricultural and transport features. Back to Map

Historic Background

The historic landscape area of Clyne Castle is a Registered Historic Park (PGW (Gm) 47 (SWA)). The registered area is well covered by the extensive and detailed description contained in the Register of Landscapes, Parks and Gardens of Special historic Interest in Wales (Cadw 2000), whilst the area of Clyne Wood and the adjacent Clyne Farm (HLCA 077) has been described in detail in Leighton (1997); these publications are key to understanding this landscape and contain micro-analysis and detail far beyond the scope of the current project.

Clyne Castle represents a nineteenth century remodelling of the original house 'Woodlands' built in 1791 by Wyatt for Richard Phillips. In 1799 it was bought by Colonel (later General) George Warde, who renamed it 'Woodlands Castle', and rebuilt in castellated Gothic style in three phases. The house was extended to the north c.1800; in 1818 a domestic and office range was added (subsequently demolished during the Berrington period of ownership) and in 1819-20 the main south block was remodelled in Gothic style, perhaps with involvement of William Jernegan, architect. The estate was owned by the Berrington family from 1832 until 1860, when it was purchased by William Graham Vivian (1827-1912) of the prominent Swansea family of industrialists, and was subsequently renamed Clyne Castle. Vivian greatly extended the house with a great hall and a large 3-storey north wing, in the Tudor style. During this period the Gothic south front was altered to harmonise with the style of the north wing.

The house and its immediate surroundings now belong to the University of Swansea, whilst the park belongs to Swansea City Council and is open to the public. It is divided into two areas, the Brock Hole Valley on the west side of the park, which is largely wooded, with an important collection of rhododendrons, azaleas and other ornamental shrubs from a wide range of places including America and the Himalayas, and a bog garden, and the remainder which has the character of landscape parkland, incorporating meadows, belts of trees and ornamental planting. The main entrance, from Oystermouth Road on the east, was created in 1860 and has a lodge and a scenic driveway to the house. There are a number of subsidiary buildings within the park, constructed as amenities for the owners.

The registered area includes the Clyne Valley, also wooded, but over an earlier field system; there are possible earthworks relating to earlier buildings both here and within the park. There are also significant industrial remains from the Tudor period onwards. Part of the wood appears to go back to the medieval period, but it has been extended over an original agricultural fieldscape. The industrial remains include quarries, bell pits dug for small-scale coal extraction and a coal level, the remains of water-power systems, an early nineteenth century tramway and a railway (now a cycle track), and copper and arsenic works (Evans 2003a, Swansea Landmap H18 Clyne Castle: SWNSHL419).

The area, with Clyne Common and Wood, originally formed the northern portion of the demesne Manor of Oystermouth and part of Bishopston, which by the fourteenth century had become a forest; the latter referring to the use of the area for preserving and hunting game, such as deer, under forest Law, rather than to tree cover. The forest would have incorporated a park, and enclosure in which the deer would have been kept and this is probably eluded to in the place name 'Hen Barc' in the adjacent area. De Breos's charter of 1306 notes the intention to empark the woodland of Clyne; however, no known remains of a substantial pale, as at Parc le Breos are known. Leighton suggests the act of physically emparking the area may not have in fact occurred, and this for a variety of reasons, including labour shortage and unpopularity amongst the tenants.

Prior to the 1860s the area largely comprised part of the estate of the Dukes of Beaufort, after this date Clyne Farm and the adjacent Clyne Wood were incorporated into the Woodlands (Clyne) estate of W Graham Vivian. During the post-medieval period woodland of the area was exploited for a variety of uses ranging from rabbit farming in the eighteenth century to the production of wood products, coppicing, charcoal burning, timber for shipbuilding and for the mines (Leighton 1997, 135-159; Mathews 1989, 38-44).

Industrial exploitation of the area dates back to at least the medieval period with milling at Clyne. While workings, such as the Clyne Valley Shaft Mounds (02883w; 275873; SAM GM455) of seventeenth and eighteenth century date, characteristically small bell-pits associated with primitive surface coal extraction, are also found in the area. Later nineteenth century workings identifiable by their larger shaft mounds and working platforms are interspersed with the earlier workings (Williams 1958, 17-21). The area contains a well preserved and now scheduled coal level entrance (01550w; 275876; SAM GM464) dating from c1840; this site is connected to the bank of the adjacent Clyne Wood Canal, itself constructed in about 1800, via a short cutting. The site was partially excavated by the Royal Commission in 1981.

During the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century the main industry of the Swansea area comprised the smelting of non-ferrous metals and the region dominated world production of copper. Representative of this industry is the Clyne Wood Arsenic And Copper Works (01215w; 85177; SAM GM475), the best preserved of the 50 or so former non-ferrous smelting works in the Swansea region. Built between 1825 and c.1840, the works operated intermittently until 1860, after which the buildings were used as hay sheds. The multiple terraces typical of such works can be seen, together with a tall ruined building, pillars for an open timber structure, furnaces and a long system of hillside flues and condensers leading to a large tower (Ivy Tower: 41109; LB 22562 II). Later industrial sites include Clyne Wood Colliery, with its small twin cylinder horizontal steam-winding engine (02880w; 275878; SAM GM469), constructed by J Wild and Co Ltd, Oldham, with a patent date 1891. This may have been installed in the 1890s or in 1912. Its unusually small size reflects the fact that the colliery was working shallow coal deposits in this area (Mathews 1960, 28-31; Hughes and Reynolds 1988; Hughes 2000).