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Castell Du, Sennybridge

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Castell Ddu; Castell Rhyd y Briw; Black Castle; 'new castle beyond Brecon'

In the community of Maescar.
In the historic county of Brecknockshire.
Modern authority of Powys.
Preserved county of Powys.

OS Map Grid Reference: SN91962840
Latitude 51.94359° Longitude -3.57304°

Castell Du, Sennybridge has been described as a certain Masonry Castle.

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


Overlooking Sennybridge are the scanty remains of what is thought to be a thirteenth century castle. The remains consist of a ruinous wall, about 26m east-north-east to west-south-west which could form part of the southern side of the castle enclosure. A D-shaped tower projects from the centre of the wall and is about 8.5m across with 1.8m thick walls. It stood up to 7.6m high in 1973. The castle may have been constructed by Llywelyn ab Gruffudd from 1262 and was possibly the 'new castle beyond Brecon' destroyed by the then Lord Edward in 1265. Einion Sais, a local Welsh lord or prince, dated letters from Rhyd-y-briw in 1271. The apparent form of the castle can be compared to those of Dolforwyn and Dinas Bran, both castles built by Welsh princes which feature projecting D-plan towers. Two south-facing WWII pill-boxes have been built into and camouflaged as, the castle remains. (Coflein–John Wiles, RCAHMW, 24 July 2007)

Castell Du, also known as Rhyd y Briw, consists of the remains of a castle, dating to the medieval period. The castle is located on the SW side of Sennybridge and commands the crossing of the river Senny at its junction with the Usk. The remains consist of a stone wall 26m in length, orientated ENE/WSW, with a D-shaped tower projecting from the centre. The tower is 6m in diameter and stands to a maximum height of 6m. Much of the original facing stone has been lost, exposing the rubble interior, although a section survives on the W side. Below the tower on the E side is a large chunk of fallen masonry lying on its side, surrounded by fallen stones. To the W of the tower is a stretch of turf-covered walling, probably the remains of a range. Most of this walling is hidden below the vegetation, but one section stands to 2m high adjacent to which is a narrow stone-built passage that leads into the extant WWII pillbox. This pillbox is one of two built on the castle site using masonry to mimic the castle walling. The second, on the E side, now lies within a neighbouring garden. Little is known of the history of the castle, although it is thought to have been constructed by Llywelyn ab Gruffudd around 1262. Records suggest that it was possibly the 'new castle beyond Brecon' destroyed by the then Lord Edward (later Edward I) in 1265. The surviving structural elements on the site may belong to a subsequent castle, as records show the use of the Rhy y Briw into the 1270s. (Scheduling Report)

Davis (2007) suggests this may be Llywelyn ap Gruffudd's 'new castle beyond Brecon' although Cwm Camlais is generally identified as this documented castle.
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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This record last updated 05/07/2016 17:26:45