Cwm Camlais Castle

Has been described as a Possible Timber Castle (Motte), and also as a Possible Masonry Castle

There are masonry footings remains

NameCwm Camlais Castle
Alternative NamesCamlais; Bleancamlais; Blaencamlais; Maescar; Defynoch; Defynock; Dyfynoch; 'new castle beyond Brecon'; novo castro ultra Breckoniam
Historic CountryBrecknockshire
Modern AuthorityPowys
1974 AuthorityPowys

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)

Gatehouse Comments

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.

- 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 ReferenceSN955260
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Copyright Philip Halling and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.View full Sized Image
Copyright Philip Halling and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.View full Sized Image

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  • Davis, Paul, R., 2011, The Forgotten Castles of Wales (Almeley: Logaston Press) p. 76-77
  • Morgan, Gerald, 2008, Castles in Wales: A Handbook (Talybont: Y Lolfa Cyf.) p. 232 (listed)
  • Davis, Paul R., 2007, Castles of the Welsh Princes (Y Lolfa) p. 68
  • Salter, Mike, 2001, The Castles of Mid Wales (Malvern) p. 17
  • Pettifer, Adrian, 2000, Welsh Castles, A Guide by Counties (Boydell Press) p. 11
  • Reid, Alan, 1998, Castles of Wales (John Jones Publishing) p. 72
  • Remfry, Paul, 1998, Castles of Breconshire (Logaston Press) p. 107-8 (plan)
  • Higham, R. and Barker, P., 1992, Timber Castles (Batsford) p. 211
  • Davis, Paul R., 1988, Castles of the Welsh Princes (Swansea)
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 17
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 334


  • King, D.J.C., 1984-5, ‘Camlais and Sennybridge castles’ Brycheiniog Vol. 20 p. 9-11 online copy
  • Hogg, A.H.A. and King, D.J.C., 1967, 'Masonry castles in Wales and the Marches: a list' Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 116 p. 71-132
  • King, D.J.C., 1965, 'A Castle of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd in Brycheiniog' Brycheiniog Vol. 11 p. 151-3 online copy
  • 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
  • King, D.J.C., 1961, ‘The castles of Breconshire’ Brycheiniog Vol. 7 p. 83 no. 13 online copy
  • Renn, D.F., 1961, 'The round keeps of the Brecon region' Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 110 p. 139

Primary Sources

  • Bémont, C., 1884, Simon de Montfort Comte de Leicester (Paris) p. 379 (mention in a fragment of of a chronicle of Battle Abbey on the War of the Barons (1258-1265)) online copy