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Cwm Camlais Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Camlais; Bleancamlais; Blaencamlais; Maescar; Defynoch; Defynock; Dyfynoch; 'new castle beyond Brecon'; novo castro ultra Breckoniam

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

OS Map Grid Reference: SN95592607
Latitude 51.92330° Longitude -3.51974°

Cwm Camlais Castle has been described as a probable Timber Castle, and also as a certain Masonry Castle.

There are masonry footings remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


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. (Reid)

The remains at Castle Mound include the stub of a circular tower c.12.5m in diameter with walls c.3.3m thick set on a boss of rock, ditched about with a strong counterscarp bank. The whole site is some 60m across, having no trace of any further works. The work has the appearance of an isolated motte, the centre of which has been disturbed to a depth of 1.8m, revealing the 7.0m diameter interior of the tower. The walling is breached on the north-east, this apparently resulting from recent exploration. A causeway across the ditch on the southwest may mark the original entrance. (Coflein)

The monument comprises the remains of a motte and ditch, dating to the medieval period (c. 1066 -1540 AD). A motte is a large conical or pyramidal mound of soil and/or stone, usually surrounded by either a wet or dry ditch, and surmounted by a tower constructed of timber or stone. Cwm Camlais comprises a large steep sided motte surrounded by a ditch and outer bank. The motte is 6m high and is surmounted by a masonry tower, the remains of which can be seen lining the sides of a hollow in the summit. The ditch is 2.5m wide and up to 2.5m deep with a causeway on the SW side, although this may be a modern feature. (Scheduling Report)

Is this really a motte or just collapsed remains of masonry work around the tower? Was this a masonry castle from the start since it is mentioned as new in c. 1260? The castle may have been a hunting lodge in the forest of Brecon.
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

Data >
Coflein   County HER   Scheduling        
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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This record last updated 05/07/2016 17:31:28