Cardigan Old Castle Motte

Has been described as a Possible Timber Castle (Ringwork)

There are earthwork remains

NameCardigan Old Castle Motte
Alternative NamesAberteifi; Dingeraint; Dingereint
Historic CountryCardiganshire
Modern AuthorityCeredigion
1974 AuthorityDyfed

A promontory enclosure set over the Teifi estuary that has been identified with the castle of Aberteifi, or Din Geraint, of 1093: a raised, cliff-girt promontory summit area, some 60m north-south by 24m, tapering to the north, has been scarped & ditched on the east to form a raised enclosure, or platform, with a possible causewayed entrance close to the southern end of the ditch; possible outworks have been reported, although these may rather be natural features. (Coflein)

It is situated at the end of a promontary projecting into the Teifi estuary. The elevation natuarally defended on the river side by cliffs (the elevation is partly boulder clay). On the landward side the elevation as defended by ditch at its base and scarping of the sides. Spergeon speaks of a low bank on top of the scarp on the north only. However, it does appear to continue right up to the entrance although with a reduced bank slope. The entrance is also slightly different from Spergeons description. A causeway over the ditch leads via a sloping terrace between the scarped front of the knoll and end of the bank and the cliff into the interior (bounded by a modern wall on the outside). A small ? clearly front the entrance (Spergeon is not wholly convinced by it and describes it as scarping). It is a broad but low bank and ditch - 10m across - of which the outer scarp some 2m high is the most marked. The ditch was marked by differential grass growth when visited. The feauture runs from the edge of the promontary on the south, where it is at first well preserved, concentric with the main ditch but, before reaching the opposite side of the promontary, it turns west to run toward the main ditch. It seems to die out before reaching the main ditch, therefore there may be an entrance at this point. There is no reason to doubt its antiquity. Internally there seems to be a further rise toward the under bank but the interior is too overgrown to be sure

The sides of the promontary are partly overgrown with bushes etc. There is some erosion but they are relatively stable. (Dyfed Archaeological Trust HER–Spergeon is presumably Jack Spurgeon but the source seem unreferenced)

The monument comprises the remains of a well preserved castle-ringwork, which dates to the medieval period (c. AD 1066 - 1485). Old Castle Mound occupies a substantial rocky promontory jutting into the estuary of the Teifi and would be admirably placed to monitor water traffic on the river. It consists of a rocky knoll defended on the west by natural cliffs and on the east or landward side by a bank and ditch, which meets the coastline at either end. It might equally be classified as a motte or as a coastal promontory fort. The enclosed summit is only c.60m north-south by c.24m, tapering towards the north. The defensive bank rises up to 1m above the level of the interior, and there is a fall of c.7m externally to the base of the ditch, which is c.2m below the level of the surrounding field. There may be a causewayed entrance near its southern end. A further bank up to c.0.8m high appears to join the eastern side of the ditch about halfway along, and then to curve round towards the south to form a further enclosure, but this may be natural in origin. The site has been identified with Din Geraint, mentioned in 1093. (Scheduling Report)

Gatehouse Comments

David King considered this as a ringwork castle and the original site of Cardigan Castle. However there is no real reason to think Cardigan castle was not built at its current site from the first and this is usually assumed by most authors. This may be a small medieval enclosure (or even earlier) representing a Norman knightly settlers farmstead.

- 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 ReferenceSN164464
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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
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights ReservedView full Sized Image

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  • Purton, P.F., 2009, A History of the Early Medieval Siege c. 450-1220 (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press) p. 264
  • Morgan, Gerald, 2008, Castles in Wales: A Handbook (Talybont: Y Lolfa Cyf.) p. 234 (listed)
  • Pettifer, Adrian, 2000, Welsh Castles, A Guide by Counties (Boydell Press) p. 39, 41
  • Davis, Paul, 2000, A Company of Forts. A Guide to the Medieval Castles of West Wales (Gomer Press) p. 38
  • Reid, Alan, 1998, Castles of Wales (John Jones Publishing) p. 44
  • 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. 45, lxv
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 335
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 131


  • 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
  • King, D.J.C., 1956, 'The Castles of Cardiganshire' Ceredigion Vol. 3 p. 56 no. 6 online copy

Primary Sources

  • Brut y Tywysogion 1093 (Several transcriptions and translations exist the best being Jones, T., 1952, Brut Y Twysogion (University of Wales, History and Law series 11)–based on the Peniarth MS 20 version. There is a flawed translation Williams ab Ithel, John, 1860, Brut Y Twysogion or The Chronicle of the Princes (Rolls Series) online copy and Owen, Aneurin (ed), 1864, 'Brut y Tywysogion' Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 19 supplement p. 124-5 [online copy >])
  • Early references to Cardigan may relate to this site–see Cardigan castle bibliography