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Vanished Castles
of Wales and the Marches

by Jeffrey L. Thomas

Photographs copyright © by Jeffrey L. Thomas

Above: the motte and bailey castle at St Clears, Carmarthenshire, Wales.
Below: the ruined curtain wall at Aberedw II, Powys, Wales.


There is no doubt that some of the world’s finest medieval castles are found in Wales. Indeed, Conwy, Harlech, Beaumaris, and Caernarfon castles have all been declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites, while the likes of Caerphilly and Chepstow have long been recognized as important and influential examples of the art of medieval castle building. These castles and others in Wales have at least one thing in common - although they are technically "ruined", they are all basically intact. In other words, their main fabric has survived to the present. That means that towers, halls and other rooms can be seen and explored, and therefore appreciated by the modern visitor.

Other Welsh castles are not so fortunate, and there are several reasons why these castles have disappeared from the landscape. First, many medieval castles were never fortified in stone, and none of these so-called earth and timber castles that dominated Britain for a century and half have survived. The reason is simple; stone lasts - wood does not. Nevertheless, impressive earthworks survive at many of these vanished sites. Another reason castles have disappeared is because of neglect and purposeful destruction. As the Middle Ages drew to a close, castles were largely abandoned in favor of more comfortable residences. Afterwards many castles were used as convenient quarries for houses, churches, and even fences in nearby communities. Other castles suffered the indignation of being purposely "slighted" or destroyed following the Civil War in order to render them indefensible.

Today these castles lack substantial masonry remains, however some of them played important parts in the history of medieval Wales and therefore deserve our attention. Fortunately many of these sites are found in areas of outstanding beauty, which, in my opinion, more than makes up for a lack of standing ruins. Remember, a castle experience is not always about stone and mortar; location is important too.

I have assembled below a collection of these castles as a quick reference guide. Each short entry provides a link to that castle's main page where you'll find additional information and photographs. The entries here are limited to castles for which we have at least one or two decent photographs of the site. Additional castles will be added as new photographs become available. Enjoy!


Aberedw Castle(s), Powys, mid-Wales

There are two castles at Aberedw. The first is a motte castle near the village church that was likely raised by the Normans in the late 11th century, but was taken by the Welsh shortly after. The motte and ditch survive. The castle and church are both associated with the last days of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd (the last). The second castle at Aberedw is small enclosure masonry castle commissioned in 1284. Fragments of this castle's towers and curtain wall can still be seen today.

Aberdyfi Castle, Ceredigion, wast Wales

Aberdyfi castle was founded by The Lord Rhys in 1156 in response to a threat to his lands from the north. The castle is situated on private land around five miles south west of Machynlleth. The motte can just be seen from the A487 road adjacent to the river south of Glandyfi or is more easily observed from the RSPB bird sanctuary of Ynys Hir.

Aberlleiniog Motte, Isle of Anglesey, Gwynedd, north Wales

A fine motte with a hint of a bailey to the south. This one is a documented Norman castle, built by Hugh de Avranches. It is surmounted by a square stone keep used, and possibly built, during the Civil War (1642-48) as a base for gun-running, originally Royalist, then Parliamentarian.

Alexanderstone Mottes, Powys, mid-Wales

The farm cuts into the SE side of a motte 5m high and 10m by 1.5m on top, which has traces of a bailey 30m by 15m to the north. Beside a stream 1.5km to the south is a second mound 1m high with a summit 9m across and a ditch mostly silted up. An Alexander mentioned in a charter concerned with Brecon Priory c.1148 was probably a member of the Mora family, then lords here.

Ammanford Castle, Carmarthenshire, Wales

Located in the grounds of Tir-y-Dail house amidst thick undergrowth are the earthen remains of Ammanford Castle. Ammanford is a typical motte and bailey that can be clearly seen from the railway line adjacent to the site. The castle has no recorded history and there is some debate as to whether the castle was Norman or Welsh. The castle could have been built by the Norman FitzPons or Clifford families, or could be the work of the Welsh prince Rhys ap Gruffydd, the Lord Rhys. The late D.J.C. Cathcart-King identified Ammanford as a ringwork, however subsequent research has proved that the castle is indeed a motte and bailey.

Ballan Moor Castle, Monmouthshire, south Wales

Very little is know of this early castle which is not too far from Chepstow. Salter describes the site as a "low lying motte and bailey that may have been the creation of the Ballon family in c1086-1106."

Basingwerk Castle, Flintshire, north Wales

The modest earthwork castle at Basingwerk was probably built by the Normans in the eleventh or early twelfth century within an earlier Saxon fortress. The motte overlooks the Holy Well of St Winefride, which is directly below the castle's western side, and may have been built to protect the lucrative Pilgrim trade that the well sustained.

Bishop's Castle, Shropshire, England

This was a mote castle, probably originating from the 12th century. A shell enclosure was constructed at a later date, and the remaining fragments of stonework down the slope of the motte suggest that there was probably a wall connecting the shell to a curtain round the bailey. Fragments can be seen near the Castle Hotel.

Bishop's Moat, Powys, mid-Wales

Stands at a height of 340m overlooking the Powys/Shropshire border. Bishop's Moat is a 6m high motte, 13m across it's top; the motte stands on the west side of a 100 x 65m bailey. The site was founded by the Bishop of Hereford around 1120, and may have been captured by Llywelyn ab Iorwerth in 1233 (the referred to site being named Castell Hitheot).

Blaenllynfi Castle, Powys, Mid-Wales

This centre of the Fitz Herbert Barony of 1208, was probably constructed in the years 1208 to 1215, after which it fell into the hands of the Braose family. It was returned to the fitz Herberts in 1217/8 and was sacked by Prince Llywelyn ab Iorwerth and Richard Marshall in the October of 1233. Rebuilt soon afterwards it was apparently taken by Llywelyn ap Gruffydd late in 1262.

Bleddfa Castle, Powys, Wales

The very overgrown motte and small bailey lie SE of the church, beside a stream. In 1195 High de Say was licensed by Richard I to refortify the castle and the square tower of which slight traces remain on the top of the motte was probably built around that time, although Hugh himself was killed in the battle of Radnor later that same year. It appears that the 3m of the 9m high motte is in fact the buried stump of this keep.

Broadward Hall Motte, Shropshire, England

The remains of a motte castle, situated within the flood plain of the River Clun. It would appear that the castle, along with the motte castles at Leintwardine and Clungunford, controlled crossing points at the lower downstream portion of the river. The flat-topped, steep-sided oval mound measures 27m by 32m at its base, 11m by 14m across the top and stands up to 3.5m high. The size of the mound indicates that it was only large enough to support a watch tower. Salter writes that a second mound once lay close by to the SW.

 Brockhurst Castle, Shropshire, England

The castle at Church Stretton, more commonly referred to today as Brockhurst Castle, is first mentioned in the records in 1156 during the reign of Henry II, the castle's likely builder. As such, Brockhurst began its life as a royal castle. The castle seems to have had a useful life of about 100 years, and by 1255 had all but vanished.

Bryn Ffanigl Uchaf Earthwork, Conwy, north Wales

The castle consisted of a narrow triangular earthen platform on the tip of an inland promontory formed by two converging streams, and as such was similar to Newcastle Emlyn. The platform was cut off from the adjoining promontory land by a ditch at the base of the triangle. The ground falls away to a lower level on the other two sides of the triangle and no ditches were provided there. A strong wooden rampart would have been provided around the edge of the platform, perhaps with wooden towers. Domestic buildings would have sited been within the defended enclosure.

Bryn-y-Cwn Castle, Flintshire, northeast Wales

Bryn-y-Cwn is a large earthwork motte and partially surviving counterscarp bank located about 1 mile north of Flint in northeast Wales. The site consists of a tree-clad motte, although the location of the bailey (if any) has been lost. There is no recorded history for the castle, although its proximity to the castle at Flint may be an indication that Bryn-y-Cwn Castle served as an outpost or support site for this larger castle nearby. The motte’s dense tree cover means that the site is best viewed in the winter. On private land. Please seek permission before visiting.

Builth Castle, Powys, mid-Wales

Builth was once one of mid-Wales most impressive castles. The original motte and bailey dates from the 12th century, although the castle was completely rebuilt by King Edward I in the late 13th century. This ambitious building program transformed Builth into a fortress that rivaled the great Edwardian castles of north Wales. Unfortunately in later centuries the castle was robbed of its stone. What remains today are the tall motte and an impressive network of ditches, banks and moats.

Builth Wells Castles, Breconshire, Mid-Wales

The earthwork at Caer Beris seems to represent the first castle in the cantref of Buellt, probably built by Philip Braose in 1093. In 1098-1102 the archbishop of Canterbury instructed him to return to the bishop of St David's those lands he had wrongfully occupied. This almost certainly refers to Philip's encroachments in Buellt. The castle then seems to have remained in quiet occupation by the Braose family for almost a century. During this time it seems likely, judging from the pit and rubble seen on the motte-top, that the castle was refortified in stone.

Caerau Castle Ringwork, Cardiff, south Wales

The ringwork castle has no mound, only an enclosing bank, with a ditch outside it. On top of the bank there would have been a palisade, and an entrance tower would have probably doubled as a keep. Inside there might have been a hall or other utilitarian buildings. The well preserved bank is oval, with an entrance gap on the south-west side, and a slight ditch on the south.

Caerleon Castle, Newport, South Wales

Caerleon saw centuries of Christian and Roman settlement and fortification before Norman invaders used this site for the steep motte of their castle in 1085. The motte had a tower, a two-towered barbican at the bottom, and the strong bailey eventually had at least a further two towers. The one tower that survives was probably erected in the middle of the 13th century. The castle was attacked and captured by the Welsh in 1217, and resisted another attack by the Welsh in 1231. The castle enclosure is now entirely surrounded by walls and the site is well wooded.

Camrose Castle, Pembrokeshire, Wales

Camrose was a small but powerful motte and bailey built in a strong position at the side of a small river where it controlled the ford. The motte is now badly overgrown and the bailey is out of sight above the level of the road. Sadly, the site is largely ignored but the enthusiast will be rewarded with a good example of the classic motte and bailey castle, should they make the effort to seek it out. The motte still stands to its original height but it suffered landscaping in the 18th century when the landowner converted it into a folly.

Carn Fadryn Castle, Gwynedd, north Wales

A stone-walled hillfort with stone huts. There is a large sloping annex on the north side and a small citadel, similar to Garn Boduan, on the very top. The construction of the citadel in the 12th century by the sons of Owain Gwynedd is recorded by Giraldus Cambrensis while on his famous journey through Wales in 1188. He thought it unusual because up to that time native rulers had used mostly earth and timber strongholds. This is one of the earliest Welsh stone castles in Gwynedd, but very prehistoric in style.

Castlebythe Castle, Pembrokeshire, Wales

The remains of the small motte and bailey castle of Castell y Bwch (Buck's Castle) lie near the church in the centre of Castlebythe village. It's a sort distance below the iron-age hilltop stronghold of Cas-Fuwch and is midway between the neighbouring castles at Henry's Moat and Puncheston. Castlebythe is at the eastern extremity of the Barony of Cemais and the castle was probably built by the Normans to help control their newly seized territory in the early 12th century. The castle mound, or motte, is around 20 feet high with a diameter of 40 feet at its top. Digging has disturbed the sides of the motte and the ditch that once surrounded it has been filled in.

Castell Cardochan, Gwynedd, north Wales

Castell Cardochan is a ruined mediaeval Welsh castle of the same vintage and design as Castell-y-Bere in the Dysynni valley. Among the ruins can be discerned a typically D-shaped southern tower, a northern round tower, and rectangular central buildings. It was probably built by Llywelyn ap Iorwerth on its impressive igneous crag about two miles west of Llanuwchllyn.

Caus Castle, Shropshire, England

It is probable that the outer earthworks of this site are those of an Iron Age fort, adapted in medieval times to form the outer bailey of this impressive castle. It consists of a high motte with a very small summit, crowned with the ruins of a small stone tower; and a massively defended inner bailey. The bailey contained a borough probably created by Roger Corbet in 1198 and it is recorded that by 1349 there were 58 burgesses living there. However, in 1521 the castle was described as being in great ruin and decay.

Cefnllys Castle(s), Powys, mid-Wales

There are two castles on the high ridge at Cefnllys. The first was built by the young Roger Mortimer on behalf of his father Ralph between 1240 and 1245 (Rmefry). This castle suffered in the disputes between the Mortimers and Llywelyn the Last, pronce of Wales. A new castle was built on the opposite end of the ridge circa 1274. This castle too was eventually destroyed. Earthworks of both castles can be seen today.

 Clungunford Motte, Shropshire, England

Medieval motte castle surviving as an earthwork. The mutilated remains of a small motte within a meadow with a base diameter of about 28m and a maximum height of 3.2m. The mound has been extensively quarried on the east and south sides. On the east side are traces of what may have been a ditch, 10m in width and 0.3m deep, which connects with a stream on the south side. Excavations revealed layers of ash with pottery and fragments of a stone mortar.

Clyro Castle, Powys, mid-Wales

South of a housing estate in a natural hillock which as been made into a large mound up to 40m across on the top with a surrounding ditch. There are buried footings of a polygonal curtain wall probably with a keep or gatehouse on the south side and internal buildings. The castle may have been founded as early as the 1070s as a twin to Hay-on-Wye across the river. Clyro was amongst the several castles fortified in 1403 against Owain Glyndwr but probably soon fell into decay afterwards (Salter).

Castle Coch (aka Ystradfellte), Breconshire, mid-Wales

This castle, taking its name from the red sandstone of which it is built, lies on a promontory about 9m high between the Afon Llia and Afon Dringarth in a remote position on the south side of the Brecon Beacons. The only historical reference to it is in 1239 when it was held by William de Braose. The southern end of the promontory has beneath a tangle of vegetation the last vestiges of a wall about 1.5m thick around a pentangular court about 27m wide. Adjoining the west wall and occupying much of the rectangular northern part of the court is a keep about 16m long by 12m wide.

Cottrell Castle, Vale of Glamorgan, south Wales

The castle is found in Cottrell Park, now a golf club, and "is almost lost amongst the new tumps and bumps of the landscaped golf course". Mike Salter describes the site as "commanding mound rising 2.5m to a summit 19m in diameter".

Crickadarn Ringwork, Powys, Wales

Crickadarn is a D-shaped ringwork castle lying just west of the church in the village of the same name. The ringwork is surrounded by a ditch except towards the main ridge where it appears to have been filled in (Salter). The ringwork ditch is supplemented by a counterscarp on all sides except to the north where the fall is slightly greater (Remfry). Possible round tower have been found in the northwest corner of the platform. Although there a fair amount of rubble in the ringwork ditch, there is no real evidence of masonry fortification at the site (Remfry).

Castell Crug Eryr, Powys, mid-Wales

Crug Eryr is a minor motte and bailey castle built on a commanding hill in Radnorshire. Although still prominent on the landscape, the castle and surrounding earthworks appear to have been altered and damaged over the years, making it somewhat difficult to ascertain the site's original form. The castle's present form consists of a D-shaped bailey platform rising above a surrounding ditch, adjoining a motte that is protected by its own ditch.

Cwm Camlais, Powys, mid-Wales

Cwm Camlais was a small castle, also known at times as Camlais, Maescar, Blaencamlais, or Defynoch Castle. Very little of its structure now remains, but enough to show that its rocky motte supported a round tower, and that the only outer defence was a counterscarp bank. Apart from a reference that it was destroyed in 1265 (and apparently never repaired), the history of Cwm Camlais is uncertain. Another record is of a "new castle beyond Brecon" built by Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, Prince of Wales, and this quite likely refers to Cwm Camlais Castle.

Cymer Castle, Gwynedd, north Wales

In 1116 we find the first recorded mention of a native Welsh castle which has survived to the present day. The mound or motte at Cymer, near Dolgellau, was put up by Uchdryd ab Edwin. Today, the now tree covered motte at Cymer can still be explored by visitors.

Castell Cynfael, Gwynedd, north Wales

Castell Cynfal is an isolated motte identified with a castle destroyed in 1147 and probably established only a short time before. The castle mound is situated above a line of crags on the crest of an isolated ridge on the lower slopes of the mountains on the south side of the Dysynni vale. This is a circular ditched mound, 42m in diameter & 5.0m high. The rock-cut ditch is some 3.0m accross & 1.0m deep.

Castlebythe Castle, Pembrokeshire, Wales

The remains of the small motte and bailey castle of Castell y Bwch (Buck's Castle) lie near the church in the centre of Castlebythe village. It's a sort distance below the iron-age hilltop stronghold of Cas-Fuwch and is midway between the neighbouring castles at Henry's Moat and Puncheston. The castle mound, or motte, is around 20 feet high with a diameter of 40 feet at its top. Digging has disturbed the sides of the motte and the ditch that once surrounded it has been filled in.

 Didley Court Farm Motte, Herefordshire, England

This castle, also known as St Devereux, consists of a motte surrounded by a ditch found a little more than a mile from the church of St Devereux in Herefordshire. The motte is roughly round, 24m in diameter and 5m high. The ditch only survives on the SW and it dies out to a berm on the southeast and East. The site is mentioned on OS maps but apparently has no recorded history.

Castell Dinas, Powys, mid-Wales

This once substantial masonry castle is the highest-sited castle in all of Britain. Today the ruins consist of the northern gatehouse, low sections of the castle's curtain wall, along with other collapsed buildings and halls that are now buried and turfed over. The site is still dominated by its series of banks and ditches. This was a Norman castle probably dating to the late 11th century.

Dinas Emrys Castle, Gwynedd, north Wales

The fortress sits on a most precipitous rock, which might well be judged the strongest natural fortress in Gwynedd. The footings of a rectangular stone tower now stand on a rock above a medieval cistern. It's construction is likely to belong to the reign of Llywelyn ap Iorwerth (d.1240), the most active castle builder among the Welsh princes. Strictly speaking, Dinas Emrys doesn't qualify as a medieval Welsh castle, however this is a legendary fortress, believed to be the setting of one of the most enigmatic tales of early British history, left to us by Nennius, a 9th-century writer.

Castell Dinerth, Ceredigion, west Wales

The castle is a motte and bailey construction, like Castell Trefilan and Castell Gwallter visited in previous classes. Dinerth was originally built by the de Clare family around 1110. It has had an extremely chequered history - razed by Gruffydd ap Rees in 1116, and again by Owain of Gwynedd in 1136. It was occupied by Hywel in 1143, and by Cadwaladr in the following year. In 1158 it became part of the lands ceded by the Normans to Earl Roger of Hereford. It was destroyed yet again by Lord Rhys in 1164, and came into the possession of Maelgwyn who lost it to his brother, but recovered it in 1199. It is thought to have been completely destroyed by Maelgwyn in 1202 - to prevent it falling into the hands of Llewelyn. Considering its history, it might have been worth letting Llewelyn have it! It had been razed three times, and changed hands at least six times in a period of about 90 years.

Dingstow Castle, Monmouthshire, south Wales

A jungle of undergrowth now defends this large motte, but even if this prevents a closer look a good impression can be gained from the footpath. It is a typical Norman motte, circular and steep-sided, with ditches on the north and south sides. A causeway across the ditch in the north-west corner may indicate an entrance. The bailey was probably on the south side, delineated by an outer bank. The motte is in a good defensive position, with a steep drop to the river Trothy on one side and a dry ravine on the other.

Dinham Castle, Monmouthshire, south Wales

West of the church, the ruins of the defended castle of the lords of Llanvair Disooed, parts as high as 20 ft (6 metres) and more, in disgraceful neglect. Gnarled trees sprout from several places. Roughly coursed local brown cut stonework survives. The cylindrical towers suggest a date in the C13, when the FitzPayn family held the lordship followed by the Monthermers by the end of the century. The best preserved tower is at the SE angle, and the stretch of straight wall joining it to the w has robbed operlings a first-floor hall or chamber was sited here, protected by a ditch and bank to the S. Further W, a smaller tower on a flared base, from which a solid wall runs N-wards.

Dolbenmaen Motte, Gwynedd, north Wales

The castle mound, 36m in diameter and some 6m high, can clearly be seen from the road despite the trees; its flat top preserves a hint of vanished buildings of stone. A substantial ditch survives on the west, but on the other sides the base has been damaged by later walls. Had there been a bailey, it has been lost under later farm buildings and the 16th-18th-century house, Plas Dolbenmaen.

Domen Las Castle, Gwynedd, North Wales

Domen Las was a Norman castle raised on the site of an earlier Roman fort. Local legend says that Welsh patriot Owain Glyndwr issued orders from the castle during his visit to the village and church in Penal in 1406. Today the castle rests peacefully on private farmland off a small lane leading to the Plas Talgarth resort.

 Dorstone Castle, Hereford & Worcester, England

A motte castle of the late 11th/early 12th century which survived into the 13th century without conversion to stone. The mound is over 6m (20 ft) in height.

Castell Du, Powys, mid Wales

Only fragments of the south wall of a courtyard with a projecting round tower about 7.8m in diameter now survive of a 13th century castle, alternately known as Castell Rhyd-Y-Briw. This may have been the castle begun by Llywelyn ap Gruffydd in 1262, and in 1271 was occupied by his ally Einion Sais, who is traditionally said to have had a second castle at Penpont where a tributary stream flows into the River Usk halfway between Castell Du and Brecon. 

Dyserth Castle, Denbighshire, north Wales

The beginnings of this modest-sized English castle are a little confused - and it is also sometimes known as Caerfaelan, Carregfaelan, Castle of the Rock and Castle de Rupe. A castle was perhaps begun very close to the present site in 1238, but the position chosen of the structure must have been unsuitable, for another castle was built (or the first rebuilt) in 1241. However it started, the castle was attacked by the Welsh in 1245, and its short confused career came to an end less than 20 years later when it was destroyed in another attack.

Fforest RingworkPowys, Mid-Wales

A shallow scoop, 5m in diameter and less than 0.60m deep, on a northwest-facing slope. Vegetation cover in February 2009 was bracken. J.J. Hall, Trysor, 3 March 2009. RCAHMW Coflein Database.

Castell Glas, Newport, south Wales

This raised grassy tump some 25 metres square lies forgotten beside a childrens play area on the edge of a Newport City council estate. D.J.C. King describes the site as having "remains of a low motte, formerly associated with some masonry". The castle is very close to Tredegar House, (now owned by Newport City Council) but once the home of the Morgans, including the privateer/pirate Henry Morgan.

Glyndyfrdwy Castle, Denbighshire, north Wales

Owain Glyndwr's Mound, which occupies a commanding position overlooking the Dee valley, is 6.5m high, 36m across the base and 12m at the top, with a ditch 1m deep on its west and south-west, towards the road. It is probably a motte, although no bailey has been traced. Its active life would have been well before Glyndwr's rising in the early 15th century; in the same field, however, not visible from the road, is a moated site, destroyed in 1403, with well-attested connections with the hero. It is not known when the property came into his family's hands.

Gro Tump, Powys, Mid-Wales

An impressive motte laying to the east of Newtown (now part of a the golf course). The inner bailey is 18m x 38m, and has strong defences in the form of the River Severn to the east and north.  The motte reaches a height of 9m, with a summit of 11m across.  Other defences included a ditch. The outer bailey was 30m x 45m, with a 2m rampart protecting the outside flank of the motte. Probably built by Roger de Montgomery in the 1080s, to protect the important route alongside the Severn (other castles including Hen Domen, Montgomery, and Dolforwyn, in addition to Roman forts at Caersws and Forden Gaer).

Guan Gunllwch Ringwork, Powys, Mid-Wales

Guan Gunllwch is a ringwork Castle above Crickardarn in Powys. A subcircular enclosure, 40m in diameter, set on the tip of a promontory above steep slopes, defined by a crescentic bank facing level ground, a ditch and counterscarp, with a ESE causewayed entrance.

Castell Gwallter, Ceredigion, west Wales

The castle is a typical motte and bailey construction of the type built by the Normans and the Welsh in the middle ages to administer the Cantref or the Cwmwd. The motte - a surrounding mound and ditch, and the bailey - a central hillock are very well preserved, but there is no trace of stonework on the hill. Perhaps the castle was of wooden construction. Although the motte is on private land, it can be viewed from adjacent rights of way.

Upper Gwarthlow Motte, Shropshire, England

Medieval motte surviving as an earthwork. A turf-covered motte 27m in diameter at the base, 6m in height, with a level summit, 11.5m across. There were no traces of a ditch. This large and impressive mound on a hilltop has very good views all round and can be seen from a large area. There is no history for the site. The site is accessible by footpath although the narrow country lanes of the nearby roads make parking difficult.

Hay-on-Wye Motte, Powys, mid Wales

This small but well-preserved motte is 3m high with a summit of 20m across lying close to Saint Mary’s church on the western edge of the town of Hay-on-Wye. The site overlooks a gorge and small stream leading to the Wye. A recently-levelled platform to the northeast may have once been the castle bailey. (Remfry). The castle was perhaps the seat for the manor of Melinog and was likely held independently from the nearby masonry castle, the two castles probably being occupied simultaneously (Salter). It is also possible that the motte and Hay is somehow related to the similar motte and bailey found at nearby Clyro.

Hays Castle Motte, Pembrokeshire, west Wales

This earthwork castle lies within the ancient boundaries of Pebidiog (otherwise known as Dewisland), the immediate district of the lordship of Saint Davids cathedral. Hayscastle is 7 miles from the fortified town and fine stone castle of Haverfordwest, 3 miles from the stone keep of Roch, and 10 miles from the fortified Bishop's palace and earlier earthwork castle of Saint Davids.

Hen Domen Castle, Powys, mid-Wales

Hen Domen (Old Montgomery) is an important motte and bailey castle built by Roger of Montgomery in the late 11th century. The castle, although never fortified in stone, was once an impressive structure and an important outpost on the unsettled Welsh border. Today the castle’s impressive motte survives along with a complex network of protective banks and ditches. Hen Domen was recently the subject of an extensive archaeological excavation, the results of which have greatly aided historians in their understanding of earth and timber castles. It was eventually replaced by the masonry castle of Montgomery nearby.

Henry's Moat, Pembrokeshire, west Wales

The small motte of Henry's Moat castle was probably built by Norman invaders some time in the 11th century. It was situated near an Iron Age fort on the edge of a small river valley in the foothills of the Presceli mountains and guarded the high-water mark of Norman expansion into south-west Wales. The damaged castle mound is around 15 feet high and 35 feet across it's top. There is a shallow depression in the centre of the motte, which may indicate that an earth-filled box rampart enclosed its upper periphery.

Holt Castle, Wrexham, north Wales

Holt Castle, known as Chastellion or Castrum Leonis from the lion sculpture above its gateway, was built some time between 1282 and 1311 by John de Warren, who was granted the area after Edward I's final defeat of the Welsh. The visible remains are difficult to interpret since almost all the stonework was removed between 1675 and 1683 for the construction of Eaton Hall, about 5 miles downstream. A survey of 1562 shows all the towers as round with a rectangular external annexe containing the chapel running full height of the south-eastern tower opposite the gate as square or rectangular.

Hyssington Castle, Powys, Mid-Wales

Now remains as a triangular bailey 70m x 45m.  The base of a tower is apparently buried (9m square?) in the low mound of the bailey's northern corner.  Traces of a hall remain in the east corner.  The site was still visible in 1811, but all above ground remains have now disappeared. This site may in fact be the castle of Snead occupied by Simon de Parcio in 1231, and given by Henry III to William de Bowles in 1233. An alternative site for this is Symon's Castle.

Knighton Castle, Powys, Mid-Wales

This earthwork seems to be a nice example of a small but almost complete motte and bailey, which is frustratingly hidden by later residential properties. It is fairly strongly situated at the top of a hill close to the line of Offa's Dyke, which runs through the western edge of the town at this point, and is currently used as a private garden. Slightly built stone walls on the motte and within the bailey can be glimpsed through gaps in the encircling ring of properties but they seem to be merely garden features. A local rumour states that a passageway at the north-eastern corner of the earthwork leads to an inhabited room within the motte.

Knucklas Castle, Powys, Mid Wales

Knucklas Castle was basically a square construction with substantial stone walls and a circular tower at each corner. Its purpose was to remind the more or less hostile Welsh population who was in charge. But it did not last long as an effective fortification; in 1260 it was by-passed when a Welsh army attacked Knighton, which fell on April 22 that year; but in 1262 Llewelyn II entered Mid Wales with a strong army, besieged Mortimer at Cefn-llys, and late in the year sent one of his generals, Owain ap Madoc, to attack Knucklas Castle with siege engines. The garrison took one look at the engines and surrendered, and the victorious Welsh rendered the fortifications indefensible.

Liege Castle, Vale of Glamorgan, south Wales

A banked and ditched rectangular enclosure, c.24m E-W by 16m, with further banks indicating subsidiary enclosures on the S & SE. Site apparently mention in 1320, reported as being under plough by 1578. Thought to be the site of an originally medieval house. Set within bounds of a possibly IA enclosure (Nprn301307). (Coflein)

Llancarfan Castle, Vale of Glamorgan, south Wales

Near the village of Llancarfan lie the remains of an obscure Welsh castle also known as Middlecross. This early castle is a worn down ringwork and bailey not to be confused with nearby Liege Castle, also known as Castell Moel or Llancarfan II, a moated, 13th century fortified manor house.

Llandeilo Talybont Castle, Swansea, south Wales

This worn-down, but still impressive motte today overlooks the M4 motorway near the exit for the A 4138 to Llanelli. According to Mike Salter the castle was likely raised in the early 12th century by Henry de Beaumont, and belonged to Hugh de Meules when it was captured by Rhys ap Gruffydd in 1215. Salter points to further references to the castle in 1319 and 1353 as a possible indications that the castle may have been rebuilt in stone.

Llanfair Kilgeddin Castle, Monmouthshire, south Wales

A prominent Motte with defensive ditch lying next to a farm. The site has been fenced off for many years. The edges of the ditch are worn but still visible. There are one or two old established trees on the mound.

D-shaped mound, 28m by 22m and 2.5m high, resting on a river cliff above the Usk to the E, ditched elsewhere. Flat motte top a rhomboid with sides about 12m. (Coflein)

Llangadog Castle, Carmarthenshire, south Wales

An imposing motte with a well-preserved horseshoe-shaped bailey earthworks. There is a modern house in the bailey. The castle is referred to in 1203, 1208 and 1209 as being captured during the Welsh-English struggles. It may be viewed from the road and from a public footpath. A brief account of the history of the castle is given in the 'Brut Y Tywysogion' (Red Book of Hergest Version) for the years 1200-1208. Local tradition has it that a nearby farmhouse called Glansawdde is built from stone taken from the old castle.

Llangibby Castle, Monmouthshire

No stone buildings now remain visible on the motte and bailey site near Castle farm but the buildings referred to in 1262 may have stood there. Further masonry construction in 1286 probably refers to the present ruin on the tree-clad hill above. It is thought to have been still incomplete when Gilbert de Clare V was killed at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. However, the William’s family, who purchased the estate from the Crown in 1554 and erected a new house, had a garrison of 60 in the decayed castle in 1648 and its state may be the result of some slighting by Parliament.

Llangynwyd Castle, Bridgend, south Wales

Large, roughly circular mound, surrounded by a deep ditch on all but the NE side, where there was a steep natural slope. Entrance causeway on the NW side. A ruined, turfed-over curtain wall, with the foundations of buildings in the interior, and some dressed stone in the entrance passage. A large bailey to the NW, with a bank and ditch along the NW side. An important outpost of the lordship of Glamorgan in the uplands, but vulnerable to Welsh attack. By 1262 much injured by war, and stormed again in c.1306.

Llanhilleth Motte, Blaenau Gwent, south Wales

There are two castles at Llanhilleth that have sparked some controversy over the years. The first is generally referred to as Llanhilleth Castle, while the other, lying nearby behind the village church of  is often referred to as Castell Taliorum. While most feel that these were both castles, some feel the sites are either burial mounds or just plain mounds. Llanhilleth appears to have been a large motte and bailey that retains its defensive ditch. An excavation carried out in the 1920s, confirms that Castell Taliorum was a masonry castle with a remarkably large central round keep.

Llanquian Castle, Vale of Glamorgan, south Wales

The overgrown ringwork on a spur NE of Hollybrush Farm on Stalling Down has traces of a masonry revetment and the lower parts of a hall-block which had a hall raised above a vaulted cellar.

Llanthomas Castle Mound, Powys, mid-Wales

Damaged and worn down motte. A ditched mound, 24m in diameter and 3.5m high, having a summit diameter of 9.0m. Remains of encircling ditch 8m wide and now some 0.7m deep visible on west side. Coflein and Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust.

Llanvair Castle , Monmouthshire

In the grounds of a house above the church are the overgrown fragments of a castle probably built by Sir Ralph Monthermer in the second half of the 13th century, on the site perhaps used in the 12th century by Payn Fitz-John. In the late 14th century the castle passed to the Montacutes. It went to the crown after the execution of Margaret, wife of Sir Richard Pole, in 1541, and was sold to Edward Woodward in 1610. He in turn sold it to Rhys Kemeys. Parts of two round towers, a gatehouse and additions of the Tudor period are said to remain but little can now be recognized.

Lower Down Castle, Shropshire, England

An early motte castle here is believed to have received a polygonal shell enclosure in the 12th century. Only fragments remain.

Lyonshall Castle, Hereford & Worcester

An earthwork enclosure (castle) with an additional bailey, the remains of which are near the church. A cylindrical tower was erected on a low platform in the enclosure, probably in the 13th century, and the enclosure was surrounded by a stone curtain. Now only some remnants of stone walls and the moat surrounding the motte remain, all on private land at Castle Weir Farm. If you go along the public footpath through a wooden gate to the east of the church, you can see a part of the castle moat, safely fenced off, above you and to the left."

Castell Machen, Caerphilly, south Wales

In the early part of the 13th century this site was used as a retreat by Morgan ap Hywell after he had lost his main stronghold of Caerleon to the Normans. The bailey is about 60m square. Although once protected by a wall and ditch it was poorly defended and is overlooked by higher ground to the north. The southern side is a cliff edge from which rises two tree-clad knobs of rock which bear the last traces of a round tower keep and a rectangular hall block, which were separated from each other and the bailey by ditches.

Castell Mael, Pembrokeshire, south Wales

Castell Mael was built at the junction of two valleys with its back protected by the little Anghof river to the east. A strong curving bank, around 8 feet high, was built away from the steeply scarped riverbank and the entrance to the enclosure was half way along its length. The castle was further protected by a 12 foot wide ditch, most of which is now filled in but there are some traces of it around the southern side.

Castle Madoc, Powys, Mid-Wales

The Powell family constructed a ringwork about 25m in diameter in c1095-1120. The rampart may have been slighted towards the approach on the south when they later built a motte and bailey castle on the lower ground to the SW. The motte rises 6m above a ditch with a 3m high counterscarp on the east. The summit measures 22m east-west by 18m north-south. The bailey south of the motte is said to have been given a curtain wall in the 14th century but there are no obvious remains of such. The bailey site is now occupied by a house (shown at right) bearing a datestone of 1588 with the initials of Thomas Powell. This was remodelled in the late 17th century and has 19th century additions.

Mathrafal Castle, Powys, Mid-Wales

Mathrafal was an original capital of the Princes of Powys, ranking alongside Aberffraw and Dinefrw as one of the three royal seats of Wales. The fort on the hill 1km NW was perhaps the original seat and the ramparts and ditches enclosing a square of about 100m upon flat ground beside the west bank of the Banwy may be of the 10th or 11th century. The motte in the east corner and the small bailey in front of it were built either by Owain Cyfeiliog c1170 or Robert de Vieuxpont on behalf of King John in 1212, after Gwenwynwyn, son of Owain, had transferred his chief seat to Welshpool. The castle was destroyed the same year by Llywelyn Fawr. Parts of the retaining Wall have been noted on the side of the bailey adjoining the river.

Castell Moel, Carmarthenshire, south Wales

Nothing is known about the history of the worn motte and bailey known as Castell Moel located about 550m to the south of a late medieval masonry castle of the same name. This later castle is actually a L-planned medieval house that once belonged to the Rede family. Today the ruins are much overgrown and are located on private property. The most prominent remains consist of a substantial section of the eastern tower along with a portion of the northern tower. Details of windows, doorways and fireplaces can still been seen in the surviving sections of the castle. Although part of the castle may have at one time included mock battlements, it is doubtful that the building was ever intended for serious defensive purposes.

Moel Froehas Castle, Powys, mid-Wales

The earthwork remains of Moel Froehas castle stand on high ground between the Tanat and Cain valleys, near the mid-Wales border with England. Both valleys penetrate westwards into the Welsh hills and the castle guarded the road between them, providing good views over the route from both directions. The most striking part of the castle is its prominent 6 metre high motte, which stands near the end of a narrow east-west ridge. There are steep slopes on all sides except to the east where a small bailey was positioned, cut off the the rest of the ridge by a ditch.

Mold Castle, Flintshire, Northeast Wales

Bailey Hill, opposite the 15th-century parish church at Mold is a good example of a Norman motte-and-bailey castle. The conical motte stands at one end of an oblong bailey, with a small outwork in front. A bowling green now occupies the bailey. Robert de Montalt may have raised the castle around 1140, but Owain Gwynedd captured it in 1147. Minor royal expenditure is recorded from 1167, after Henry II recovered Mold. Stone walls found in the bailey perhaps belonged to this hall, but there is no later record of the castle.

Castell Morgraig, Cardiff, south Wales

Castell Morgraig north of Cardiff has been something of a bone of contention between historians as to who built the castle. Cadw and others favor the notion that the castle was built by the Normans, while local historians point out the castle's similarities to others built by the native princes of Wales.

Morlais Castle, Mid Glamorgan, south Wales

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.

Castle Morris, Pembrokeshire, south Wales

The castle was built on the classic Norman plan of a cone or pudding-shaped mound (the motte), which would have supported a sturdy wooden tower, and a kidney shaped outer enclosure (the bailey) adjacent to and largely surrounding the mound. The remains of the bailey can still be clearly seen and a farm is currently housed within it. However, the motte was purposely removed many years ago so that a new barn could be housed within the confines of the earthwork.

Nantcribba Castle, Powys, Mid-Wales

This site has changed due to modern quarrying. It stands beside Offa's Dyke, and a ditch on the hill side may show some continuity between a Dark Ages site and a medieval site (not too uncommon). The final traces of a stone wall remain on the hill top, and probably enclosed an area of around 40mx35m.  Round towers may have stood at the south and west corners. The site was probably the castle of Gwyddgrwg begun around 1260 by the owner of Caus Castle (Thomas Corbet), and destroyed in 1263 by Gryffydd ap Gwenwynwyn.

Nevern Castle, Pembrokeshire, southwest Wales

A fine motte and bailey castle may be located by climbing the short but winding road that continues up the hillside beyond the pilgrims' route. Also known as Nanhyfer, the castle was originally a native Welsh stronghold, but was seized in the early 12th century by the Norman Robert Fitzmartin, lord of Cemmaes. Fitzmartin strengthened the castle and created a double-motted structure. Later that century the Welsh Lord Rhys promised peace with the Fitzmartins upon the marriage of his daughter, Angharad, to William Fitzmartin (Robert's grandson), but that peace was short-lived.

New Radnor Castle, Powys, mid-Wales

The motte at New Radnor still towers over the village below. It is likely that the first castle on this impressive defensive site was built by the Normans in the late 11th century. New Radnor was captured by the Welsh and rebuilt several times before being left to decay following the Glyndwr rebellion in the early 15th century. Today the castle is reduced to its motte, a series of banks and ditches, and sections of a wall that once encircled the town, but these are nevertheless an impressive set of remains.

Newtown Castle, Powys, mid-Wales

The earthwork castle near the centre of Newtown was built in the second half of the thirteenth century to protect a Norman frontier settlement. The older motte and bailey of Gro Tump, a leftover of previous wars, lies about a mile to the east but seems to have played no part in the new arrangements. Instead, a broad-topped motte, some 39 metres across and 5 metres high, was built to protect the southern side of the town. A circular ditch surrounded the motte and there were probably earthen ramparts running from it to the north and east to join the river, thereby providing all-round defence. The motte can be seen in a public park near to the council offices and a length of embankment can just be traced to the east, parallel to the modern road.

Painscastle Castle, Powys, mid-Wales

This is probably the most impressive set of earthwork remains in all of Wales. The castle is named after its builder Pain Fitz-John and was destroyed and rebuilt several times. The castle was rebuilt in stone by Henry III in 1231 with a round tower keep on the motte and curtain wall with an east gatehouse and several D-shaped flanking towers. Today site is dominated by the castle's large motte and series of tall, deep banks and ditches. All the remaining masonry has collapsed and is turfed over.

Pen-y-Castell, Denbighshire, north Wales

This primitive castle of unknown history shares some of the typical features of indiginous Welsh castles. It mixes the traditional dry-stone walled enclosure built on a naturally defensible site with a keep-like structure at its most vulnerable end  and is similar to Carn Fadrun on the Lleyn Peninsular. Carn Fadrun was reported to have been newly built by Gerald of Wales (Giraldus Cambrensis) in 1188.

Pen y Clawdd Castle, Monmouthshire, south Wales

Pen y Clawdd castle consists of a modest motte protected by a double (wet) moat. Little is known about the history of the castle although it is thought that the Norman keep that once crowned the motte was one of several strongholds built locally by Roger de Hastings following an uprising of barons against William the Conqueror in the late 11th century.

Pencader Castle, Carmarthenshire

Pencader Castle is an imposing motte overlooking the confluence of two streams, three miles north of Alltwalis. Away from the steep slope there is a ditch in front, but the bailey has been cut off by a disused railway line. This is probably the castle of Mabudryd erected in 1145 by Gilbert de Clare, earl of Pembroke, when he penetrated deep into Deheubarth. The Welsh soon regained control, and Henry II came to Pencader to receive homage from the Lord Rhys in 1162. Henry was admonished by an old man who assured him that the Welsh would still be here to answer in their native tongue on the Day of Judgement.

Penlle'r Castle, Glamorgan, south Wales

This was probably a late 13th century stronghold garrisoned by a Marcher Lord against one of his rivals, and is unlikely even to have been a permanent fortification. It perhaps had two square towers, but these were probably made of dry stone walls, as there is no evidence of mortaring. The flat platform forming the castle base was defended by deep ditches, and there are impressive views from the summit (the name means "summit of the place of the castle").

Penllyn Castle, Glamorgan, south Wales

Penllyn Castle, four miles south-east of Bridgend, was probably built by Robert Norris, Earl Robert of Gloucester's sheriff. Lord of Penllyn by 1135, he seems to have erected one of the first Norman keeps in Glamorgan. It was an oblong tower, like contemporary Ogmore. The two surviving walls stand on the edge of a low cliff above the River Thaw. Near the base are six courses of 'herringbone' masonry, a feature of early Norman work in which the stones are set in alternate diagonal layers. Above are traces of a blocked first-floor entrance. The keep now forms one corner of a derelict building. This began as a Tudor manor house of the Turbeville family, but was converted to a stable when the adjacent mansion replaced in in the 1790s.

Penmaen Castle, West Glamorgan, Wales

Penmaen was a small Norman timber castle located on the Gower peninsula. Recent excavations at the site have revealed a ringwork castle typical of the 12th-century March. Eventually stone replaced earth and timber at most major Marcher and royal strongholds. The two phases of building at Penmaen cannot be closely dated, but the ringwork with its timber gateway is accepted as being Norman. At some stage the gate was destroyed by fire, although whether this was through Welsh attack or domestic mishap will never be know. However, it was replaced by a drystone-walled gatetower. Penmaen's "Castle Tower" was also a drystone-walled hall with curved ends.

Penmark Castle, Vale of Glamorgan, south Wales

The overgrown ruins of Penmark Castle lie in an orchard behind the church of St Mary's in Penmark, Vale of Glamorgan (formerly south Glamorgan). The castle once belonged to the Umfraville family, and today the principal remains consist of a section of curtain wall connected to a round tower and rectangular latrine turret.

Penrhos Castle, Monmouthshire, south Wales

A fine motte, surrounded by a double bank and ditch, in a commanding position about 3 miles north of Raglan Castle. Traces of bailey to the north. Administrative center of a sub-lordship of Abergavenny.

Pentrefoelas Castle, Conwy, north Wales

Large motte, bailey small and doubtful, distinct trace of ring-wall, abandoned by 1198. Thought to be a scarped natural hill: an oval mound, c.35m NW-Se by 30m & 7.5m high, having a level summit, 20 NW-SE by 12m, set within an irregular scarped area, c.90m NW-SE by 54m, the whole damaged by quarrying on the NE.

Prestatyn Castle, Denbighshire, north Wales

Prestatyn Castle occupies a low-lying position, but still commands a view across much of the flat coastal plain. It consists of the remains of a motte c.20m in diameter with surrounding ditch, and a bailey which, unusually, encloses the whole of the motte. The castle was probably built by the Norman Robert de Banastre about 1164, and was destroyed by the resurgent Welsh under Owain Gwynedd in 1167.

Castell Prysor, Gwynedd, north Wales

This natural boss of rock is strengthened and topped by a stone mound which was originally revetted with drywalling, now badly ruined. Edward I wrote a letter from here on 1 July 1284, but it is obviously an earlier Welsh castle.

Pulford Castle, Cheshire, England

A small motte and bailey castle defends the crossing of the Pulford Brook, at this point the border between England and Wales, on the road from Wrexham to Chester. Pulford castle is stratgically sited as an outpost of Chester castle protecting the road at a major river crossing, though modern drainage has made the river and the river marshes look a lot less formidable today (The name Pulford is derived from pwll-marsh and ffordd-crossing). It is one of three small timber castles guarding the border in the area, the others being Dodleston a kilometer NW and the large motte at Aldford, protecting a crossing of the River Dee, a kilometer East.

Pulverbatch Castle, Shropshire, England

There are two motte sites here, one at SJ433016 and visible by Wilderby Hall, and the other which has its bailey at SJ423023. The latter may be mentioned in 1205. It is known locally as Castle Pulverbatch and the earthworks are visible.

Rhayader Castle, Powys, Mid-Wales

The rocky platform on which Rhayader castle stood is roughly rectangular and measures approximately 50 metres from north to south and 40 metres east to west. The gatehouse may have been at the northern end of the castle next to the keep, protected by the ditch which was 10 metres wide and at least 4 metres deep at that point. There were still signs of wall foundations within the castle enclosure in the early nineteenth century but they have mostly been removed for use elsewhere. There are similarities between the site of Rhayader castle and others associated with Rhys ap Gruffudd at Cilgerran, Cardigan, Dinefwr and Nevern.

Richard's Castle, Hereford & Worcester, England

At Richard’s Castle a plate found near the site states, "The Castle, one of only three eleventh century wooden mottes existing in England before the Norman Conquest - built by Richard Fitzscrob who gave his name to the parish. Rebuilt in stone, the Castle had its heyday in the 13th and 14th centuries, when it was the stronghold of the Mortimers and Talbots. By 1530, it was part of a farm and largely in ruins."

Rogerstone Castle, Newport, south Wales

Rogerstone Castle was owned by the Kemys family, who also owned Greenfield Castle and Maesglas Castle. Records show that the castle, also referred to as Tribginlion, and was sold by the family in 1611. Today the ruin consists of a grass-covered motte. Local information claims that the castle's low stone walls were knocked down within recent memory.

Rumney Castle, Glamorgan, south Wales

Rumney Castle, a small ringwork historically part of the marcher lordship of Gwynllwg, was situated above a steep natural scarp overlooking the river Rhymney. First mentioned in A.D. 1184-85, the castle guarded the western boundary of the lordship and the river crossing. The defenses consisted of a ditch and clay rampart constructed around three sides of the site. Two separate excavations of the castle were conducted by the Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust in advance of development, sponsored on both occasions by the I.A.M. (Welsh Office, now Cadw) and a Manpower Services Commission Special Temporary Employment Programme. The excavations at Rumney represent the most extensive examination of a Norman ringwork castle in the British Isles.

St Clears Castle, Carmarthenshire,Wales

The castle, known locally as Banc y Beili, was a Norman stronghold probably founded circa 1100. Although there are indications that a stone tower at one time crowned the summit of the motte, St Clears was primarily an earth and timber castle. Today, the impressive motte at St Clears still dominates the village and surrounding countryside. The motte and bailey sits in a well-kept park right off the main road. The motte is maintained so that undergrowth and vegetation is kept in check. A children's playground occupies a portion of the large bailey, which is otherwise kept clear and accessible. If you’ve ever wanted to see a textbook example of a Norman motte and bailey, the castle at St Clears more than fits the bill.

St Davids Castle (Parc-y-Castell), Pembrokshire, Wales

This early earthwork castle consisted of a partial ringwork and bailey and it was built to provide security for the Bishop of St Davids. It was the furthermost castle of the Landsker Line of castles that stretched from the Bishop's other castle at Llawhaden. The castle is a D-shaped ringwork appoximately 15 feet high that is surrounded by a V shaped ditch 8 feet deep. This took the place of the conical motte more often found in earthwork castles and provided a greater area of fortified accommodation compared with the overall ground area covered. There is also a more lightly built outer bailey to the north (left) that was built with a core of unmortared stone set within a clay bank.

St Nicholas Castle, Vale of Glamorgan, south Wales

St Nicholas is a fine, large raised ringwork surrounded by a ditch, with a causeway across the south side. The outline of a rectangular bailey is found to the south (Salter).

Sennybridge Castle, Powys, mid Wales

Only fragments of the south wall of a courtyard with a projecting round tower about 7.8m in diameter now survive of a 13th century castle, alternately known as Castell Rhyd-Y-Briw. This may have been the castle begun by Llywelyn ap Gruffydd in 1262, and in 1271 was occupied by his ally Einion Sais, who is traditionally said to have had a second castle at Penpont where a tributary stream flows into the River Usk halfway between Castell Du and Brecon. 

Shrawardine Castle, Shropshire, England

There are two sites in this area, the main castle (of which this article focuses on) and a lesser known motte and bailey at Little Shrawardine. Both are located on opposite sides of the river Severn. When one takes a walk around the remains, its clear to see that the forces of Cromwell did a pretty effective job and what with the passage of time all that is left to see now is a mere hint of what would have been a classic Norman design comprising of an oval shaped motte with some fragments of a shell keep at the summit and a rough U shaped bailey to the south east. The fragments of masonry reveal little of the architecture of the keep, although there appear to be a trace of a pattern within the stonework.

Sycharth Castle, Powys, north Wales

Closer examination of the site immediately beyond the farm reveals the earthwork remains of a motte and bailey castle, its contours now disguised by a number of trees and other vegetation. Yet, 600 years ago this was the noblest house in all of Wales, and between 1400 and May 1403 it was more. It was the focal point of a people who were enjoying, for one of the few brief instants in history, their existence as a nation. It was the home of Owain Glyndwr, their prince.

Symon's Castle, Powys, Mid-Wales

The 4m high motte has been increased in appearance by modern quarrying, but the siting of the motte explains it's use - it overlooks and completely controls the road leading onto the Ceri Ridgeway. The castle would have been an ideal garrison point for controlling passage into and out of the local area. A stone curtain wall was added to the earlier motte (1.8m thick), and enclosed a court 21m across.

Talley Castle, Carmarthenshire, Wales

Just north of the ruins of Talley Abbey on the isthmus between two lakes lies a motte rising some 4.5m and 7.5m across. Nothing is known about the history of the site.

Talyfan Castle, Vale of Glamorgan, south Wales

Talyfan is an overgrown ringwork castle near Cowbridge with traces of a wall 2m thick. The castle is mentioned in 1248.

Castell Tinboeth, Powys, mid Wales

Today the ruins of Tinboeth Castle consists of a great ditch surrounding an enclosure which was once fortified by a curtain wall. To the east stands the last forlorn fragment of the now largely collapsed twin towered gatehouse. Killing platforms surround the ditch to the east and south. Further south again are three great gashes in the ground from which the stone for the castle masonry was probably dug.

Tomen Castell, Conwy, north Wales

Tradition claims that this Welsh earth and timber castle which occupies a rocky knoll on the valley bottom was the predecessor to the stone castle at Dolwyddelan. Tomen Castell is said to have been the birthplace of Llywelyn ap Iorwerth, (the Great), the likely builder of the later castle at Dolwyddelan. Both castles controlled a crucial route through southern Snowdonia, and the importance of this site is further attested to by the presence of the Welsh prince's summer pastures or hafotiroedd. Today the mound or motte is covered with trees and vegetation. There are traces of a rectangular tower on the summit.

Tomen Ddreiniog, Gwynedd, north Wales

Very little is known about Tomen Ddreiniog. Its history can be inferred only from what is known of similar constructions elsewhere. It has been linked with Castell Cynfael and Tomen Las near Pennal as one of the Motte and Bailey Castles built by the Normans during the phase of expansion, and destroyed, or taken over by the Welsh towards the end of the 11th Century. Unfortunately it is not possible to get to the Motte, but there are good views of it from Dysynni Bridge on the A493.

Tomen y Bala, Gwynedd, north Wales

Although Llanfor may have originally been the more important site, Tomen y Bala, which at 40m diameter and 9m high is the largest, eventually outstripped it. Bala is likely to have been the maerdref or administrative center of the commote of Tryweryn, and it was still fortified in 1202, when Llywelyn ap Iorwerth, who was extending his power towards Powys, drove out Elis ap Madog, Lord of Penllyn. From the top of the mound it is possible to appreciate the typical grid plan of the streets and the regular burgage plots (property) which still dictate the layout of the center of the town. Tomen y Bala is adjacent to a large car park on Mount Street

 Tomen y Faerdre, Denbighshire, north Wales

Tomen y Faerdre is an impressive motte, 6m high on the east and 25m across the summit. It sits on a natural rock outcrop, forming a cliff above the river Alyn on its west. An artificial ditch runs around its remaining sides, tapering down towards the stream on the south, but ending in mid-air above the crag on the north. There is no trace of a bailey.

 Tomen y Mur, Gwynedd, Wales

An impressive Norman motte raised inside a 1st-century Roman fortification on highroad between Caerhun and Pennal. The motte still dominates the site and overlooks a large baily, Roman road, and small Roman amphitheater. A fascinating multi-era site steeped in Welsh legend and history, surrounded by beautiful countryside and popular hiking trails. This one is well worth visiting. 

 Tomen y Rhodwydd, Denbighshire, North Wales

Tomen y Rhodwydd, built by Owain Gwynedd in 1149 in conjunction with his annexation of part of Powys, is a very fine motte and bailey castle, commanding wide views except to the north-east. The remains are mainly grass-covered. The motte, 20m across the top, is surrounded on the north and west by a dramatic ditch and outer bank.

 Trecastle Motte, Breconshire (Powys) mid-Wales

This is the best preserved motte and bailey castle in Breconshire. An oval tree-clad motte 6m high occupied the east half of a bailey platform 115m long by 45m wide. Circumstantial evidence suggests the castle was built by Bernard de Newmarch c1095 and fell to a Welsh attack sometime between 1121 and 1136. It was probably then abandoned although possibly rebuilt in the 1150s by Walter Clifford.

Castell Troggy, Monmouthshire, Wales

Hidden among the bushes and trees are the remains of a castle built by Roger Bigod III, earl of Norfolk, as a hunting lodge. It is mentioned in 1305, as a newly built tower was probably left incomplete at his death in 1306. At each southern corner are remains of towers with octagonal interiors up to 6m in diameter.

Trueman's Hill Motte, Flintshire, northeast Wales

Trueman's Hill is an earth and timber motte and bailey castle that was likely never fortified in stone. The site consists of a dense, tree-clad motte, a section of damaged ditch, and a portion of the rampart which originally surrounded the bailey. There is no recorded history for this castle, although its proximity to Ewloe (2 miles) and Hawarden (1 mile) presents the possibility that Trueman's Hill might be somehow related to one of these castles.

Tump Terrett Castle, Monmouthshire, Wales

Trellech is rich in ancient monuments, three of which, Harold's Stone, the Virtuous Well, and this motte, are celebrated on a remarkable sundial of 1689 which now stands inside the church. The motte is a large, earthen steep-sided circular mound. The ditch that originally encircled it survives only on the north side. All traces of the bailey have gone. .

Twmpath Castle, Cardiff, south Wales

There were at one time two motte and bailey castles in northern Cardiff. One located in Whitchurch - and levelled earlier this century - and the other which still stands today called the Twmpath, on the Northern edge of Rhiwbina (near Wenallt Road in Rhiwbina). It still stands a good 30 feet high, although it has a fair amount of vegetation covering it. It is associated with two local legends, one which refers to it being a burial mound erected about 1089 for Iestyn ap Gwrgan, Lord of Glamorgan, although you don`t usually see burial mounds with deep ditches around them! The second legend refers to a story where the Devil piles up some earth in the form of a mound.

Twthill Castle, Denbighshire, north Wales

In the year 1063 Rhuddlan was the royal seat of Gruffydd ap Llywelyn and the base from which that powerful prince plundered English lands as far east as Oswestry and Wrexham. In that year, however, Gruffydd was driven to Rhuddlan by Earl Harold (the future and last Saxon King Harold I). Three years later Harold himself lost the decisive battle of Hastings, and the Welsh had henceforth to contend with the organized might of the most powerful military despotism in Europe. At the command of William the Conqueror a new castle, of the motte-and-bailey pattern which marked every stage of the Norman penetration, was thrown up at Rhuddlan in 1073 by Robert of Rhuddlan. Today, Robert's earthen mound traditionally occupying the site of Gruffydd ap Llywelyn's palace, rises impressively to the south of its 13th-century successor, while the outline of its bailey may still be traced in the adjoining fields.

Tyddyn Mount, Flintshire, northeast Wales

Tyddyn Mount is a small earthwork motte located on Tyddyn Farm about 2 miles southeast of Mold in northeast Wales. The site consists of a tree-clad motte, although the location of the bailey (if any) has been lost. There is no recorded history of the castle, although its proximity to the castle at Mold may be an indication that Tyddyn Mount served as an outpost or support site for this larger castle nearby. The motte’s dense tree cover means that the site is best viewed in the winter. On private land. Please seek permission before visiting.

Walwyn's Castle, Pembrokeshire, Wales

Walwyn's Castle was built within an Iron Age hillfort by Norman invaders some time after the death of the Prince of south west Wales, Rhys ap Tewdwr, in 1093. It is situated in the commote (administrative district) of Rhos at the head of a long narrow valley running north for a distance of around 3 miles from the Cleddau estuary. Often described as a ringwork and bailey, Walwyn's Castle did in fact possess an unusual quarter-circular motte built at the end of a strong cross-bank towards the rear of the castle. The 20 foot high motte provided a secure area and final refuge at the most inaccessible part of the site and its top would have been surrounded by a strong palisade, probably containing a small but sturdy timber tower.

Welshpool Castle, Powys, Mid-Wales

Probably the seat of Powys before Powis Castle was built. Domen Castell stands near to the railway station, and may be the site built in 1111 by Cadwgan ap Bleddyn, ruler of Powys. If so, this is probably the castle captured by the Anglo-Normans in c1190, and recaptured shortly afterwards by Gwenwynwyn. When Gryffydd ap Gwenwynwyn plotted against Llywelyn ap Gryffydd from Welshpool in 1274, the site was still a wooden structure; it was destroyed when Llywelyn removed him. The ramparts have been changed greatly, but was probably 60mx46m, and the south side still houses a 5m motte (9m across at the summit).

Weobley Castle, Hereford & Worcester, England

An enclosure of earthworks that was captured in 1138 and mentioned in the Pipe Rolls for 1186-7. The earthworks included double ditching. The later stonework is believed to have consisted of a quadrangle with corner and mid-wall towers, gateway and a great tower, but only the earthworks remain today.

Y Foelas Castle, Denbighshire, north Wales

Large motte castle resting on a natural spur rising 7.5m visible from a public footbath but obscured by woods and vegetation. Small inner bailey on the south, larger bailey on the south. Motte commands view towards Pentrefoelas. Traces of masonry found, although likely an earth & timber castle. Abandoned by late 12th century.

Ystradowen Motte, Vale of Glamorgan, south Wales

A medium-sized motte just west of the church with a quarry hole in the middle. There is a ditch on the north and south sides, stopping abruptly at the west end, suggesting that the castle was unfinished. The masonry castle of Tal y Fan is 1km to the east.

Learn more about motte & bailey castles in Britain

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