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Morlais Castle

near Merthyr Tydfil, Mid Glamorgan, south Wales
SO 049097

Map link for Morlais Castle

Photographs copyright © 2004 by Laurie Oliver

Above: approaching the castle from the trail below

Michael Salter, 1991

Within an Iron Age hillfort on a limestone ridge above the Taff Gorge and Merthyr Tydfil are the last traces of the large and strong castle begun in c1287 by Gilbert de Clare, earl of Gloucester on land claimed by Humphrey de Bohun, earl of Hereford. Warfare broke out between the earls in 1290 and they were severely admonished and fined by Edward I who had to march down from north Wales to intervene. The castle was captured by Madog ap Llywelyn in 1294. It was probably never fully completed and was too remote and exposed to serve as a residence. The Bucks' engraving of 1741, however, shows that fragments of the walls then still stood high.



The castle comprised a triangular inner ward with sides about 45m long and an inner bailey 60m wide. The inner ward had a round keep 17m in diameter at the north corner, a D-shaped tower with a staircase on the north side at the SE corner, and a similar tower projected from the south wall. Between the later two was the gateway. On the west side was a freestanding building about 25m long. It was joined to the south tower by an almost square building. In front of the south tower is a deep pit, presumedly the cistern. The outer ward has no towers on the west side, but there is a D-shaped tower at the SE corner. The later has a rib-vaulted basement with a central pier and a sharply pointed doorway. Against the east curtain was a large and thickly walled building over 20m long, and on the west is a smaller building.


Additional photographs of Morlais Castle







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Copyright © 2009 by Jeffrey L. Thomas