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Gower's earliest castles were constructs of earth and timber, built upon the steepest aspects of hills and coastal promontories. There, the natural geogaphy of the land often provided as much of a defence to villages as the fortifications themselves. Most remains of Gower's Iron Age Hillforts date from around the 6th Century A.D. and evidence of their quite large scale can still be easily traced in the numerous mounds and ditches on many of the peninsula's larger hilltops.
However, by the 12th Century A.D. the increasing sophistication and weaponry employed by invading armies found these earth and timber hillforts desperately wanting and none stood any real chance of succesfully defending their occupants against the cruel onslaught of the Normans. After much bloody and vicious battles, Gower untimately fell under Norman occupancy and these conquering armies built around their new settlements stone castles to protect themselves from any future local uprisings.
The common practise of Normans builders was to construct their castles using the 'motte and bailey' method. This consisted of a mound (motte), upon which a wooden keep would be erected. This would then be surrounded by a flat area (bailey), which in turn would be defended by a ditch or bank. Gower's Norman castles differ from the norm in that they were constructed using the less common 'ringwork' method. Although similar to the 'motte and bailey' method, Gower's castles were designed to take full advantage of the natural landscape to further the defensive potential for their buildings. Particularly fine examples of this design can be seen at Pennard Castle and Weobley Castle.
Such was the strength of Norman rule and the effectiveness of their castles that it is was not until the early 15th Century that a Welsh rebellion, led by Owain Glyndwr, finally managed to liberate Gower from their occupation. Gower's castles were ransacked and brought to ruin in celebration of the Norman defeat at this time - with only Weobley and Oxwich Castles (which were never really more than fotrified manor houses) continuing to be occupied thereafter.