Briton Ferry Motte

Has been described as a Possible Timber Castle (Motte)

There are earthwork remains

NameBriton Ferry Motte
Alternative NamesHen Gastell
Historic CountryGlamorgan
Modern AuthorityNeath Port Talbot
1974 AuthorityWest Glamorgan

Hen Gastell is possibly identified with a castle at 'Aberafan' recorded as destroyed in 1153. The site, recognised in the 1970's, occupies a knoll above river cliffs along the right bank of the lower Neath River close to an historic crossing point (NPRN 34422). The site was partly quarried away in the 1930s and 40s and an archaeological excavation was carried out in 1991-2 in advance road construction. The summit of the knoll, an area at least 25m across, was enclosed by at least one bank and ditch, This was associated with a later 12th-early 13th century ceramic assemblage, overlying and cutting deposits producing fifth to sixth century material. A small Romano-British assemblage was also produced. (Coflein–J.Wiles, RCAHMW, 5 October 2004)

Gatehouse Comments

Rocky knoll may be castle site recorded by the antiquarian Rice Merrick (c1520-87). Said to have been constructed by Morgan ap Caradog of Afan, during a Welsh uprising in c.1183-4. A lunate rock-cut ditch isolates the summit, which has been hacked level. There appears to be confusion between this site on the west bank of the river and the Vernon House site on the east bank of the river. The site was examined before the M4 affected it. David Maynard writes that "There was definite occupation on the summit, with at least one hearth and some post holes. Although the crag had been seriously damaged by medieval stone quarrying, making it hard to interpret the site, there were pre-Norman finds including pottery and a Hiberno-Norse glass bead."

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

Not Listed

The National Monument Record (Coflein) number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSS731940
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  • Butler, L., 2009, 'The Castles of the Princes of Gwynedd' in Willams, D. and Kenyon, J. (eds), The Impact of the Edwardian Castles in Wales (Oxbow) p. 27-36
  • Morgan, Gerald, 2008, Castles in Wales: A Handbook (Talybont: Y Lolfa Cyf.) p. 254 (listed twice once as possible, once as lost)
  • Davis, Paul R., 2007, Castles of the Welsh Princes (Y Lolfa) p. 100
  • < >RCAHMW, 1991, An Inventory of the Ancient Monuments in Glamorgan Vol. 3 Part 1a: The Early Castles (London: HMSO) < > UW1 p. 139-41
  • Salter, Mike, 1991, The Castles of Gwent, Glamorgan and Gower (Malvern) p. 75 (slight)
  • Davis, Paul R., 1988, Castles of the Welsh Princes (Swansea)


  • Wilkinson, Paul F., 1996, 'Excavations at Hen Gastell, Briton Ferry, West Glamorgan, 1991-92' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 39 p. 1-50 download copy
  • Avent, Richard, 1994, 'Castles of the Welsh Princes' Château Gaillard Vol. 16 p. 11-17
  • Spurgeon, Jack, 1987, 'The Castles of Glamorgan' Château Gaillard Vol. 13 p. 208
  • Spurgeon, C.J. and Thomas, H.J..,1980, 'Briton Ferry' Archaeology in Wales Vol. 20 p. 70
  • Spurgeon, C.J. and Thomas, H.J., 1978, 'Medieval Glamorgan' Morgannwg Vol. 22 p. 25 online copy


  • David Maynard, 6-2-2007, pers. corr.