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Scethrog Castle (The Tower)

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Llansanffraid, Sgethrog

In the community of Talybont-on-usk.
In the historic county of Brecknockshire.
Modern authority of Powys.
Preserved county of Powys.

OS Map Grid Reference: SO10452496
Latitude 51.91572° Longitude -3.30315°

Scethrog Castle (The Tower) has been described as a probable Masonry Castle, and also as a certain Pele Tower.

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains.

This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law*.


A thick-walled gable-roofed tower, set in a scarped and banked polygonal enclosure. The tower, which has been described as "a small and unexpectedly lofty cottage", was probably part of a late sixteenth century mansion. The building is square in plan and is of two storeys, with a cellar below and attic above. The massively battered walls are rubble-built and the roof is of stone tiles between end stacks. The openings all appear to be sixteenth century and later. There are no signs of blocked openings. The main door is on the north, approached by eighteenth century steps. Two other doors open from the ground floor to the east, where there is a small single storey addition. OS County series (Brecknock. XXXIV.7 1887) also shows a larger additional range. A stair in the thickness of the west wall communicates between the first and second storeys. This corresponds with a shallow external projection. There is no stair leading higher. The earthwork enclosure is at least 60m east-west by 70m. The tower occupies a 1.8m high mound on its southern edge, which rests above the floodplain. There is a large, somewhat irregular pond immediately below the tower. This may hint at an earlier garden arrangement (NPRN 86109). A large late sixteenth or early seventeenth century barn lies on the northern line of the enclosure. (John Wiles 02.02.07) Possibly as early in date as C14 with C16 alterations, including the addition of a fourth floor. Further alterations in C18. Rectangular tower house of stone rubble with stone tile roof. Battered walls. Single main room to each floor with stone stairs to the corners. Possible cellar, now inaccessible, and attic. (Source CADW listed buildings description). (Coflein)

One of only two tower houses in the area, the other at Talgarth, this building is believed to have been built by a branch of the Picard family, and is given a probable C14 date by Jones & Smith. Originally 3 storeys, altered in the late C16, the present top floor dating from this period; original openings also enlarged, first floor partition added. In C18 present stair built and cellar sealed off. Associated with an earthwork moat.
Plan of single main room on each floor with stone stairs in corner. Ground floor on two levels has 5 cross beams, and joists, supported by massive corbels and posts; door with wide horizontal planks and lock and key fittings; former main kitchen chimney to N, small open fireplace in S wall. Beneath a reportedly inaccessible cellar. Former hall to first floor has high cross beams; wide window embrasures with heavy timber lintels, unusually two adjacent fireplaces in N and E walls, the latter unused and with a huge stone lintel flanked by two corbels, the former with a timber bressummer; further small fireplace S; wide oak floorboards, corbels for former upper storey. Attic storey has pegged A-frame trusses and 3 rows of trenched purlins; pointed archway to former upper storey/roof. Parapet of the former wall walk now visible inside upper storey.
Rectangular tower house with small single storey extension to E. Built of stone rubble with stone tile roof and end stacks, the N chimney corresponding with the main internal flues. Very thick deeply battered walls, the batter extending 2/3rds of the height of the walls. 2 storeys and attic. S side has a window at each level, the two upper deep set renewed mullioned windows under a hoodmould; ground floor has a wide tripartite sash with narrow hoodmould cut into the batter. W side has two casement windows, the bottom long and again cut into the batter, with narrow stone sills and hoods, to left a shallow corbelled bay at first floor level corresponding to the internal staircase. N elevation has at attic level a window with timber lintel, dripmould, hollow chamfered mullions; first floor 3 pane casement with timber lintel and hoodmould; ground floor has main entrance up flight of stone steps with coped retaining wall, battered buttress to right, and doorway with large timber lintel, chamfered square headed surround, Tudor-arched head to boarded door. E elevation has side entrance by the single storey laundry extension with small end stack, stone steps up mound and first floor window. (Listed Building Report)

'One of the earliest and simplest tower houses in Wales. Built by a branch of the Pichard family to provide protection against welsh marauders in Breconshire. It was initially a 3-storied structure but is now a cottage of two storeys and attics. Door was originally approached by an external stair' (Emery, A, 2000, 655).

Has been suggested this might be a remnant of a larger castle, but nearby presence of Pencelli castle may make this unlikely, it is, however, likely to been a earlier defensive site than the C14. Certainly was a larger farm complex in C19 and the earthwork may represent a post medieval garden boundary.
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This record last updated before 1 February 2016