There are few written documents and archaeological remains that provide us with information on the origins of the castle, which makes quite difficult to rebuilt its original appearance. It was probably Archbishop Xoán Arias who commissioned the construction of this fortified residence within the context of the construction boom that also led to the start of the failed Gothic cathedral and the alterations at Xelmírez’s refectory. Unlike later archbishop, Xoán Arias did not have chroniclers that registered his accomplishments during office.
Archaeological excavations have uncovered few pieces that can be dated back to the second half of the 13th century and to the time of its pristine configuration except for some coins of Afonso X The Wise and the capital shown in the image. This is an ornamental piece after the stylistic model introduced by the school of Master Mateo and which in Galicia survived almost until the arrival of the Renaissance.
From the point of view of the History of Art, the castle of Rocha Forte is a good example of the conflict between the Galician Romanesque tradition and the innovation brought about by Gothic. Indeed, the fortress may be considered as one of the great Gothic castles in the Iberian Peninsula.