The Legend of Ogmore Castle

Ogmore Castle was built by the Normans about 1162 to guard the mouth of the river on which it stands. With Newcastle and Coity it formed a continuous line of defence against the turbulent Welsh who, angered at the loss of their lands, would descend in violent sweeping raids from their fastnesses in the hills. The whole of the Ewenny area was considered so dangerous by the Normans that even their priory was built as a fortress; and Ogmore Castle itself was placed in the keeping of William de Londres the fiercest and most capable of Fitzhamon's knights. Most castles have a legend connected with them and Ogmore is no exception. This is the one still known in the area today.

Maurice de Londres, the son of the first lord, was staying at Ogmore Castle to partake in a hunt in the surrounding woods which abounded with deer. The disinherited Welsh, of course, poached these animals whenever the opportunity arose and the punishment was torture and death. One day a Welshman, himself of princely descent, was caught in the act of unleashing an arrow at a stag. He was captured and taken to the castle. In the morning the tools of torture where heated to their usual high temperature and the prisoner prepared for the initial stage of being blinded.

He was brought forth for the enjoyment of the dwellers of the castle, now assembled in the courtyard. There his proud, unrepentant demeanour impressed everybody especially the daughter of the Lord of Ogmore. She began to plead his case, reminding the Norman Lords that it was they who had taken everything from the Welsh. It was her birthday and on such a special occasion she craved a boon that the life of the man be saved. De Londres, in a good humour, granted this and, taking advantage of his mood she pressed further: she begged that the Welsh be given a preserve of land on which they could hunt freely. The Lord demurred at this, but granted the wish on one condition: that the land should be no greater than the area around which the girl could walk barefoot 'from now to sunset'. The daughter pleaded that she be given sandals, but this request was refused.

She started off at a brisk pace, first up the neighbouring hillside and then across the undulating hill-top; but thorns and brambles slowed her down, making her feet bleed. She struggled on, traversing the hill top as far as she dared in the limited time and then made her way down to the sea. At last, just before sunset she reached a point by the castle where the old farm house stands today.

The route she travelled was carefully marked by following soldiers and then became common ground. It is now known as Southerndown Common and has belonged to the Commoneres ever since, where you will now see sheep grazing freely.