Bryn Castell, Caerhun

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

There are earthwork remains

NameBryn Castell, Caerhun
Alternative NamesTal Y Cafn; Castell Maelgwn
Historic CountryCaernarfonshire
Modern AuthorityConwy
1974 AuthorityGwynedd

A mound traditionally identified as the site of a medieval castle. It is situated close to the modern bridge of Pont Tal-y-cafn, which replaced a more ancient ferry. This is an oval or near rectangular steep sided mound, about 30m across north-south and 4.0m high. It has a level summit some 15m across. The mound has been disturbed on the east, where a building is shown on the 1st edition OS County series (Caernarvon. IX.9 1888). There is apparently no trace of a ditch. With the exception of the mighty Conwy, this is the only castle in Arllechwedd Isaf commote. It is possible that this was the site of a llys, a princely court, before the rise of Conwy. (Coflein)

Bryn Castell, on the W bank of the River Conway at Tal-y-Cafn Bridge, about 40' abouve the river. An oval mound of fine gravel, 335' in circumference at the base on the E side is probably due to quarrying. There is no sign of a bailey. (Gwynedd Archaeological Trust HER Ref.–RCAHMW)

Motte castle commanding crossing of R Conway at Tal y Cafan. A tree-covered mound, just over 100m in circumference and 4.5m high. The top measures 16m N-S by 10m E-W. Stone robbing has removed a part of the E side of the mound. There are no signs of a bailey. (Scheduling Report)

Gatehouse Comments

A mound overlooking an important crossing of the Conwy. The lack of a bailey is significant. The area has not been particularly heavily developed so any attached court must have been just fenced or had the slightest of ditches which does not support this as a military base. It is an excellent location for toll collection and a tower on a mound with both symbolical express the right to take tolls and provide a lookout for traffic on the roads. Nothing about the site, other than the crossing, suggest a high status residence. A Roman fort, Canovivm, (The Caerhun of the local community placename) lies a mile up river and has a medieval church in the NE quadrant suggesting this may have been the site of the llys. The fort was extensively excavated in the 1920's as a Roman site and early medieval archaeology is notoriously difficult so it may be evidence of a possible llys was either missed or ignored by the excavators.

- 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 ReferenceSH785719
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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. 233 (listed)
  • Pettifer, Adrian, 2000, Welsh Castles, A Guide by Counties (Boydell Press) p. 36
  • Salter, Mike, 1997, The Castles of North Wales (Malvern) p. 49 (slight)
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 32
  • RCAHMW, 1956, A Survey and Inventory of the Ancient Monuments of Caernarvonshire Vol. 1: East (HMSO) p. 27 no. 114 online copy
  • Fisher, J. (ed), 1917, Tours in Wales (1804-13) by Richard Fenton (London: Cambrian Archaeological Association) p. 178 online copy
  • Lewis, Samual, 1849, A Topographical Dictionary of Wales 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