The Marshal Castle
The first stone castle, built for William Marshal, 4th Earl of Pembroke (c.1146-1219), was constructed on the site of an earlier timber structure, probably during the first decade of the thirteenth century. Recent excavations have revealed a sodbuilt structure and sections of a large earthen rampart beneath the garden and parade ranges, both pre-dating the stone building.
The earliest description of the stone castle was recorded in 1307 when the buildings on the site were listed as, ‘a castle in which are a hall, four towers, a chapel, a mote (moat) and divers other houses’. This confirms that the form of the castle was similar to that used at the royal castles of Dublin and Limerick in that it was a ‘keepless castle’.
This meant that it was built without a massive tower (or keep) as its principal feature. Instead it had four towers, an encircling wall, and a moat; within the walls were a hall, chapel and other buildings some of which were probably wooden. Recent excavations have revealed other important facts about the early stone castle.
A massive stone base batter, which served as a defensive measure that descended into the dry ditch or moat, has been uncovered on the outer faces of the surviving curtain walls.
Two postern gates were also uncovered and have been preserved; one may be seen where it cuts through the well-preserved batter to the right of the entrance gateway. The other is located underneath the floor of the terrace corridor.