OYSTERMOUTH CASTLE

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• Here — the ‘ grim-visor’d knight,’ at the bead of his hand,
Has cased him in armour, and girt on his brand;
While Beauty looked down from her lattice on high,
With the * smile on her lip and the tear in her eye.’
But neither victor nor vassal shall hither return: —
The castle is roofless, — the chiefs in his urn;
And those ramparts, that frown o’er the surf-beaten rocks,
Are the haunt of the sea-fowl, — the lair of the fox.”

THIS stately relic of the feudal ages overlooks the picturesque Bay of Swansea,
and attracts many strangers to its gate, — not only for its venerable antiquity, but for
its bold position on the verge of lofty and abrupt limestone cliffs, which command a
magnificent view of the subjacent scenery. It is supposed by some to have been erected
by the Earl of Warwick, in the reign of Henry the First; by others, to have been the family
fortress of the Lords of Gower, in the reign of King John. But to which of the two the
credit of founder belongs is matter of conjecture. Like the Castle of Swansea, already
mentioned, it is now the property of the Beaufort family, whose mineral possessions in
this district are said to be of incalculable value.

The principal walls of this domestic fortress have suffered comparatively little
from the lapse of time, or the hand of violence. Most of the original apartments may be
easily traced out, so as to give a tolerably correct idea of their shape and dimensions,
and the internal economy with which they were arranged. The general figure of the
main body is polygonal; the ramparts are lofty and massive, but not flanked with towers,
except at the entrance, which appears to have been strongly secured by double gates
and a portcullis.

In many parts along this picturesque coast, the limestone rocks swell over a fine
sandy beach into perpendicular cliffs of great boldness, exhibiting vast quantities of
organic remains, and worn in many places into deep and lofty caverns. Built on a cliff of
this description, and with all the necessary accessories of vigilance and security, it could
have been hardly possible to have selected anything more eligible for a feudal keep,
whose chiefs generally chose their fortalices as the eagle chooses his eyry, — to secure
a wide field for him, and exclude lesser birds of prey.

The village of Oystermouth — about half a mile to the south of the castle —
occupies a beautiful position on the verge of the Bay. A lofty rock throws its shadow

over it; the headland of which, called the Mumble Point, stretches far into the sea, and
affords a safe anchorage for shipping. The village is chiefly inhabited by fishermen,
who, as the name implies, are mostly employed in dredging for oysters, which are
found of superior quality in the adjoining bay. During summer, it is much resorted
to by strangers, for the benefit of sea-bathing, — a source of annual revenue to the
inhabitants, who, by letting their apartments, secure very good returns.

This is understood to be the natal soil of Gower, — the father of English poetry,
— and therefore classic ground: —

“Here, in the olden time the ‘moral’ Gower
Attuned his harp upon that rocky strand;
Gather’d the shell, and pluck’d the vernal flower,
And struck the wild chord with a master’s hand.
To him the summer sea, the stormy wave,
Were heaven-born music in their various keys;
As, thundering through yon subterranean cave,
The billows sang in chorus with the breeze.”

The railway from Oystermouth to Swansea is a source of great convenience to
the inhabitants, as a means of ready intercourse between the most frequented points
of the coast adjacent. Newton, proverbially known as a healthy station for invalids
and sea-bathers, and Caswell Bay, within half-an hour’s walk of Oystermouth, are well
deserving of a stranger’s attention. The latter is remarkable for the number and extent
of the marine caverns already alluded to, as well as for the beauty and variety of the
sea-shells with which the sands at low water are profusely enameled.

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