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The most recognisable feature at Cardiff Castle is surely the impressive twelve-sided Keep, the finest example in Wales. This type is known as a ‘shell’ keep because its outer walls provided a protective shell for smaller buildings within.

The stone Keep was built in the early 12th Century by Robert Consul, Earl of Gloucester, replacing the timber defences of Robert Fitzhamon, Norman Lord of Glamorgan. For eight years it was the prison of Duke Robert of Normandy, the eldest son of William the Conqueror, until his death in 1134 at the age of 80 years.

The Norman Keep

Additions made in the 13th and 14th Century included a gatehouse with a stone staircase leading to the stone bridge which replaced the timber drawbridge across the moat. The gatehouse was later removed during landscaping in the 18th Century.

After nearly 1000 years, the Keep still commands the inner area of the castle and is an impressive sight on entering the grounds.

The artificial motte (or mound) on which the keep is built is 10.67m (over 35ft) high with a summit 33m in diameter. From the top of the Keep the panoramic views of the city are breath-taking and to the north you can see as far as Castell Coch.

There are approximately 50 steep stone steps leading to the Keep entrance and further steps to reach the viewing platform, but it’s worth the effort!

Please note that these steps may not be suitable for all visitors and that it may be necessary to close the Keep during adverse weather conditions.


Climb the mighty Norman Keep and see our replica trebuchet. Marvel at the Castle Apartments, created for one of the world’s richest men. Discover the Roman remains and Chariot Corner. Explore the Firing Line military museum and experience the Wartime Shelters.



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