Bryn y Castell, Gobowen

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Motte Ringwork)

There are earthwork remains

NameBryn y Castell, Gobowen
Alternative Names
Historic CountryShropshire
Modern AuthorityShropshire
1974 AuthorityShropshire
Civil ParishSelattyn And Gobowen

The motte castle adjacent to Preeshenelle United Reformed Church is a well-preserved example of this class of monument, despite the partial removal of the eastern edge of the motte in the 19th century. The mound will retain evidence of the buildings constructed upon its summit, which together with the associated artefacts and organic remains, will provide valuable evidence about the nature of the occupation and the life styles of those who inhabited the castle. Organic remains preserved within the buried ground surface under the motte and within the ditch will provide information about the local environment and use of the land prior to and following the construction of the motte. The importance of this motte castle is further enhanced by its close proximity to Wat's Dyke. In the medieval period this section of the Dyke may have been reused to serve as a defensive outwork to the castle. The organic and artefactual remains preserved within the ditch of the dyke will provide dating evidence relating to the construction of the dyke and the period of its use. The organic remains preserved within the ditch also have the potential to enhance and add to the information about the changes to the environment and land use in this area.

The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a motte castle, traditionally known as Bryn-y-Castell, meaning the castle on the hill, and an adjacent section of Wat's Dyke, which lie within two separate areas of protection. The motte occupies an elevated position at the northern end of a spur above the flood plain of the River Perry. From this location there are extensive views of the uplands to the west and the undulating lowlands to the east. The motte lies immediately to the west of Wat's Dyke, an earlier territorial boundary. The motte is oval in plan, measuring approximately 46m by 60m at its base and 36m by 44m across the top

In order to create a level building platform, in relation to the sloping ground on which its stands, the height of the motte increases from 0.7m on the western side to 1.7m on its southern side, where the natural slope appears to have been artificially enhanced. The deep cut into the eastern side of the spur for the construction of Preeshenlle United Reformed Church in the 19th century has partly removed the lower portion of the edge of the motte on this side. The church is not included in the scheduling. A ditch was constructed around the motte, except to the north east where the natural slope is steepest. The ditch, which is visible as a shallow depression about 6m wide to the west, has become infilled over the years, but will survive as a buried feature. Wat's Dyke is a major territorial boundary consisting of a bank about 7m wide, bounded by a deep ditch, also about 7m wide, on its western side. It mostly runs in a north to south/north easterly to south westerly direction, and generally defines the lower land to the east from the higher ground to the west. It has been traditionlly interpreted as an Anglo-Saxon frontier earthwork, marking the western extent of the Mercian kingdom in the 8th century AD. Scientific dating of a section of the Dyke, following an archaeological excavation to the south of Oswestry town centre, has indicated that the Dyke was probably constructed in the 5th century AD. The stretch of the Dyke to the south of the flood plain of the River Perry follows the lower ground immediately to the east of the spur on which the motte castle was built. A section of the Dyke ditch, 22m long, is visible as a broad, flat depression, about 7m wide, to the north east of the motte. The western side of the ditch is discernible as a scarp, which has cut into the natural slope. Surviving largely as a buried feature, this infilled part of the ditch is thought to be as much as 4m deep. There are no visible indications of the adjacent bank. This area has been landscaped over recent centuries, and as a consequence is not included in the scheduling. Other sections of Wat's Dyke to the north and south are the subject of separate schedulings. (Scheduling Report)

Possible ringwork castle sited in a prominent position on the end of a spur of land overlooking the R. Perry to the N, in which direction the ground falls away steeply as it does to the E. The site takes the form of an almost circular raised mound standing on the highest point of the natural spur. It measures c35m in diameter and stands up to 0.7m high. There is a slight but definite trace of a ditch on its W side. The site is best interpreted as a ringwork rather than a motte due to the lack of height of the mound, which does not appear to have been levelled......All trace of any ditch that may have run along the W side of the mound has been obliterated by the building of a C19 chapel..In doing so it has also destroyed the portion of Wats Dyke which previously ran N/S here....the exact relationship of (Bryn Y Castell) with the Dyke cannot now be determined due to the C19 chapel. ..Bryn Y Castell may have been the site of a lookout post/ fort placed forward of the Dyke but contemporary with it. There is a slight suggestion of a low bank around the W edge of the mound, and on the E side a small area of the mound appears to be very slightly raised, suggesting a possible building platform. There is no obvious trace of any bailey or attached additional enclosure. (Shropshire HER ref. Watson Michael D. 1983-Feb-04. Site Visit)

Centred at SJ 30393404, within Bryn-y-castell field is a level- topped, artificially - constructed, oval mound. It measures overall, 60.0m. north-south, by 46.0m. transversely, and in height, is from 2.0m. on the south, to 1.0m. on the north, and 0.4m. on the west. The ground falls away fairly steeply on the north to a stream 60.0m. away, and less steeply to the west and south. Although rather low, its general appearance and the field name suggest it is a castle mound. A line of steep slopes, 25.0m. from the mound on the north-west, may have given the impression of a bailey but they are quite natural.

The hollow at 'a' is now levelled-up and built over. (PastScape ref. F1 ASP 12-OCT-79)

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSJ303340
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  • Duckers, Peter and Anne, 2006, Castles of Shropshire (Stroud: Tempus) p. 77
  • Jackson, M.J.,1988, Castles of Shropshire (Shrewsbury: Shropshire Libraries) p. 9
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 432 (Whittington No. 2)
  • Catherall, W., 1855, History of Oswestry: comprising the British, Saxon, Norman and English Eras (Oswestry: George Lewis) p. 12 online copy


  • 1979, Aerial Archaeology Vol. 4 p. 56, 63
  • 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
  • Chitty, Lily, 1949, Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological Society Vol. 53 p. 92-3
  • 1930, Report of the Earthworks Committee Vol. 12 p. 12


  • English Heritage, 2001, Scheduling Papers (New Scheduling, 09/05/2001)