Ystradowen Motte

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Motte)

There are earthwork remains

NameYstradowen Motte
Alternative NamesYstrdd Owen; Druids Grove
Historic CountryGlamorgan
Modern AuthorityVale of Glamorgan
1974 AuthoritySouth Glamorgan

A disturbed, sub-circular, ditched mound, c.41.5-46m in diameter and up to 4.0m high, apparently formed by cutting off the end of a natural bank. A walled plantation about the mound is called "Druids's Grove". Thought to be an unfinished motte, however damage by treasure seekers / early archaeologists, makes interpretation difficult. (Coflein)

Ystradowen Castle Mound is a rare example of an unfinished motte. The NW side is unditched but on the other sides the ditch was left uncompleted. It may have been superceeded by nearby Talyfan Castle. (Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust HER)

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. However, it is suggested that the abortive motte was the intended caput of a Norman lordship of 'Charlton' rather than a precursor site to Tal y Fan (RCAHMW, 1991, p. 77)

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. This is a large mound standing just west of the Ystradowen church in a grass field. The mound is 4 - 5m high, with steep sides on all but the north side where it is barely higher than the outside ground level. Here there is a c. 0.5m drop to ground level. On the west side there is a ditch 4 - 5m wide and 1.7m deep on the outside. There is a gradually sloping counterscarp bank on this side. On the south side there is no ditch. The side of the mound here appears to have been disturbed by old quarrying activities: the bank is uneven, and there is a gap in the middle which leads to a hollowed out area ontop of the mound. This is 11 x 12m and c

2m deep, and occupies the centre of the south side of the top of the mound. The rest of the top is flat, sloping up gently towards the northwest. On the east side there is a shallow ditch 4 - 5m wide and 0.8m deep on the outside. Outside this is a counterscarp bank 3m wide, with an external height of 0.3m. This peters out towards the north and the ditch stops abruptly where the ground level rises. (Scheduling Report)

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 ReferenceST010776
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Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights ReservedView full Sized Image
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights ReservedView full Sized Image
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights ReservedView full Sized Image

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  • Morgan, Gerald, 2008, Castles in Wales: A Handbook (Talybont: Y Lolfa Cyf.) p. 241 (listed)
  • Pettifer, Adrian, 2000, Welsh Castles, A Guide by Counties (Boydell Press) p. 111
  • < >RCAHMW, 1991, An Inventory of the Ancient Monuments in Glamorgan Vol. 3 Part 1a: The Early Castles (London: HMSO) < > MO12 p. 75-7
  • Salter, Mike, 1991, The Castles of Gwent, Glamorgan and Gower (Malvern) p. 75 (slight)
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 171
  • Davis, Paul R., 1983, Castles of Glamorgan (Alun Books)
  • Hague, D.B., 1971, in Pugh, T.B. (ed), Glamorgan County History Vol. 3 The Middle Ages (Cardiff) p. 448
  • Randall, Henry John, 1961, The Vale of Glamorgan, Studies in Landscape and History (Newport: R.H.Johns Ltd) p. 77
  • Morien, 1903, History of Pontypridd and Rhondda Valleys (Pontypridd) p. 29


  • King, D.J.C., 1983, ‘Ystradowen motte’ 130th annual meeting, Vale of Glamorgan, 1983: programme, CAA p. 21
  • Spurgeon, C.J. and Thomas, H.J.,1980, 'Castle mound, Ystradowen', Archaeology in Wales Vol. 20 p. 73-5
  • 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
  • Clark, G.T., 1889, 'Contribution towards a complete list of moated mounds or burhs' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 46 p. 197-217 esp. 216 online copy