Castell Nos, Aberdare

Has been described as a Possible Timber Castle (Other/Unknown Motte)

There are earthwork remains

NameCastell Nos, Aberdare
Alternative NamesCastelle Nose
Historic CountryGlamorgan
Modern AuthorityRhondda Cynon Taff
1974 AuthorityMid Glamorgan

The SE end of an isolated eminence 35m (N-S) by 12m, an entirely natural hillock, rocky except for the small oval flat top which has been scarped and ditched on the N and W. Traces of a possible bailey lie to the NW. There is no historical record of the motte which is possibly a medieval Welsh attempt to construct a motte-like fortress from this naturally strong position. (Coflein–ref. RCAHMW, 1991)

Medieval Welsh motte & bailey on a natural hillock. Bailey is incompletely fortified but the motte defences are probably complete. (Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust HER)

The monument consists of the remains of a defensive motte probably dating to the medieval period. It is unusual in that instead of creating an earthen mound (motte) to defend, a natural pennant sandstone outcrop has been artificially scarped and steepened. The outcrop is set above the precipitous eastern slope of the head of the Rhondda Fach Valley. It commands the Glamorgan side of the watershed between the Rhondda area and Brecon. It thus controls one of the major routes into the Glamorgan uplands from the north. At the northern end of the outcrop there is a ditch approx. 3m below the break of scarp which curves round in a 'half moon' shape and this protects the less steep northern approach. In the centre of the ditch is a masonry foundation 3m square, possibly connected with a drawbridge abutment. There is a second slight ditch, running concentric to the first, 27m beyond it. It is an usual site and may have been used as a castle mound built in the period following the seizure of Glyn Rhondda by de Clare in 1246. (Scheduling Report)

Gatehouse Comments

It is also suggested as a early Medieval (Dark Ages) fortress. A possible gatetower was a drystone construction. Mentioned by Leland as 'Castelle Nose is but a high Stony Creg in the Top of an Hille'.

- 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 ReferenceSN965001
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  • Morgan, Gerald, 2008, Castles in Wales: A Handbook (Talybont: Y Lolfa Cyf.) p. 239 (listed)
  • Davis, Paul R., 2007, Castles of the Welsh Princes (Y Lolfa) p. 105
  • Pettifer, Adrian, 2000, Welsh Castles, A Guide by Counties (Boydell Press) p. 112
  • < >RCAHMW, 1991, An Inventory of the Ancient Monuments in Glamorgan Vol. 3 Part 1a: The Early Castles (London: HMSO) < > UW4 p. 146-9
  • Salter, Mike, 1991, The Castles of Gwent, Glamorgan and Gower (Malvern) p. 75 (slight)
  • Davis, Paul R., 1988, Castles of the Welsh Princes (Swansea)
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 172
  • Davis, Paul R., 1983, Castles of Glamorgan (Alun Books) p. 28-9
  • Hague, D.B., 1971, in Pugh, T.B. (ed), Glamorgan County History Vol. 3 The Middle Ages (Cardiff) p. 444


  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1906, Leland's Itinerary in Wales  (Bell and Sons; London) p. 22 online copy


  • Spurgeon, Jack, 1987, 'The Castles of Glamorgan' Château Gaillard Vol. 13 p. 207
  • Spurgeon, C.J. and Thomas, H.J., 1980, 'Castell Nos', Archaeology in Wales Vol. 20 p. 75
  • 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 (possible)