Cae Gaer

Has been described as a Questionable Timber Castle (Motte)

There are earthwork remains

NameCae Gaer
Alternative NamesAllt Cunedda; the hill of Cunedda; Allt Kanatha
Historic CountryCarmarthenshire
Modern AuthorityCarmarthenshire
1974 AuthorityDyfed
CommunitySt Ishmael

In the charter to the borough of Kidwelly (16 James I) one of the corporation boundaries is given as "the hill of Cuncdda," and in the survey of the lordship of Kidwelly, taken in the 10th Jas. I, "Allt Kanatha" is mentioned as one of four mounds which marked tho limits of the borough. The site was, until recent years, a small open common upon which sports used to be hold. Next it was enclosed, and the enclosure became sub-divided into several small fields. By recent changes in the boundaries this area is now just without the boundaries of tho parish of Kidwelly, and within those of St. Ishmaels, though there is little doubt that it was not always so.

The name 'Allt Cuncdda’ is still in use, and has been perpetuated in that of a small farmstead, but the general position is known as ‘Cae gaer,’ which betokens a fortified enclosure. As a matter of fact the crown of the hill wfas occupied by an earthwork of slightly oval shape, which, however, has been so altered and wasted in the course of tho ages, as well as by reason of the uses to which the enclosure has been put, that it is impossible to describe its formation. The earthwork commands an extensive view seawards, and is marked on the original 1 in. Ordnance map as “Ancient Fortress,” but is without description on the current 6-inch sheet.

It is clear that on the appearance of the Normans in the district a mound was thrown up in a corner of a prehistoric earthwork; this mound became a feature in the boundary of the foreign settlement of Kidwelly, and the freshly established motte castle became the caput of the Norman lordship. As time went on the term Allt Cunedda, W'liieh started by designating the prehistoric enclosure crowning the natural hill, had its significance restricted to the artificial hillock upon which stood the wooden fortalice of the Norman baron. (RCAHMW 1917)

There is some confusion concerning this site

It is recorded first as a hill-slope enclosure, bivallate to the north, then as a possible motte and bailey (Dyfed Archaeological Trust Prn1391), before emphatically reverting to a 'simple enclosure'. (Coflein)

There is no surface evidence for a motte or a bailey. AS Maull 1983 (Dyfed Archaeological Trust HER of medieval motte)

Gatehouse Comments

King states their may have been a castle here (parish of St Ishmaels) but does not clearly identify it as this site. No antiquity seems to marked at the site on any OS map of any age. It is exceptional rare for castle to be found on parish boundaries and the given location does not appear to have any significance or value beyond being on a hill. If there was a mound here it is now gone and it is most likely to have been a barrow from it location and from the nearby presence of other, now also lost, barrows reported in the Inventory. The suggestion it was a motte can probably be dismissed.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

Not Listed

The National Monument Record (Coflein) number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSN405087
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  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 60 (possible)
  • RCAHMW, 1917, An inventory of the Ancient Monuments of Carmarthenshire (HMSO) p. 242-3 no. 716 online copy


  • Savory, H.N., 1954, Bulletin of the Board of Celtic Studies Vol. 15
  • 1851, Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 6