Tir y Dail house, Ammanford

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Motte)

There are earthwork remains

NameTir y Dail house, Ammanford
Alternative NamesOld Castle; Castell Rhydaman
Historic CountryCarmarthenshire
Modern AuthorityCarmarthenshire
1974 AuthorityDyfed

A roughly circular tree-grown castle mound measuring 35m in diameter and and about 6m high. The top of the mound, diameter 20m, is marked by a wide circular depression 2.5m deep. Traces of the bailey survive on the east where it was defended by a ditch and an outer bank. There is some dispute about whether this motte represents a Welsh or a Norman castle. Historical opinion, including Dr Roger Turvey, favours a Welsh origin with the castle being built to mark and defend the southern approach to Cantref Bychan from Norman-controlled lands of Gwyr (Gower) and Cydweli (Kidwelly) to the south. (Coflein)

This motte and bailey castle is thought to date from the 12th century. There is no documentary evidence to suggest the original builders, however it has been suggested, based on its date and strategic position, that it may have been the Lord Rhys. The surviving defences comprise two concentric ditches to the north of the motte divided by a small ‘horn work’ to the north. The northern ditch is c.15m wide at its greatest extent and some 2m in depth. The ‘horn work’ is crescentic in form and is 15m wide at its widest point. The inner ditch is approximately 12m wide and 4m deep. The motte has a maximum height of 6 - 7m and is 35m in diameter at its base. The top of the motte is approximately 17m in diameter with a flattened area of c.1.5 - 2m surrounding an internal depression some 12m in diameter and approximately 2 - 2.5m deep. The western edge of the defences were truncated during the mid-1800s by the construction of what is now the ‘Heart of Wales Line’ railway line. (Dyfed Archaeological Trust HER)

The monument comprises the remains of a motte and bailey castle, a military stronghold built during the medieval period. A motte and bailey castle comprises a large conical or pyramidal mound of soil or stone (the motte) surrounded by, or adjacent to, one or more embanked enclosures (the bailey)

Both may be surrounded by wet or dry ditches and could be further strengthened with palisades, revetments, and/or a tower on top of the motte. At Tir-y-Dail the mound measures roughly 35m in diameter and 6.5m in height; a small hollow is visible on the summit of the mound, measuring about 15m in diameter and 2m in depth. An earthwork which may represent the remains of a bailey is situated immediately to the N of the mound. This earthwork is crescentic on plan, measuring about 38m from E to W by about 15m transversely within a shallow ditch about 14m in width, the footings of a small rectangular building are visible on the SE. (Scheduling Report)

Gatehouse Comments

Small motte and bailey and not a ringwork as suggested by King who examined the site when it was 'hatefully overgrown'.

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

Not Listed

The National Monument Record (Coflein) number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSN624124
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink

No photos available. If you can provide pictures please contact Castlefacts

Most of the sites or buildings recorded in this web site are NOT open to the public and permission to visit a site must always be sought from the landowner or tenant.

Calculate Print


  • Morgan, Gerald, 2008, Castles in Wales: A Handbook (Talybont: Y Lolfa Cyf.) p. 236 (listed)
  • Pettifer, Adrian, 2000, Welsh Castles, A Guide by Counties (Boydell Press) p. 58
  • Davis, Paul, 2000, A Company of Forts. A Guide to the Medieval Castles of West Wales (Gomer Press) p. 27
  • Salter, Mike, 1996, The Castles of South West Wales (Malvern) p. 46 (slight)
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 54
  • RCAHMW, 1917, An inventory of the Ancient Monuments of Carmarthenshire (HMSO) p. 8 no. 32 online copy


  • Poucher, P. 2011, 'Ammanford, Til-y-dail motte' Archaeology in Wales Vol. 50 p. 99-101
  • Jones, Richard and Norman, Terry, 2006, 'Ammanford Motte and Bailey Castle' Ammanford and District Archaeology and Historical Society Newsletter online copy
  • Turvey, Roger, 'Ammanford Castle/Castell Rhydaman' Amman Valley Historical Society online copy
  • King, D.J.C. and Alcock, L., 1969, 'Ringworks in England and Wales' Château Gaillard Vol. 3 p. 90-127
  • Hogg, A.H.A. and King, D.J.C., 1963, 'Early castles in Wales and the Marches: a preliminary list' Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 112 p. 77-124