Dinas Powys Ringwork

Has been described as a Possible Timber Castle (Ringwork), and also as a Possible Siege Work

There are earthwork remains

NameDinas Powys Ringwork
Alternative NamesCwm George Camp; Cwrt-yr-ala
Historic CountryGlamorgan
Modern AuthorityVale of Glamorgan
1974 AuthoritySouth Glamorgan

This is a small promontory fort crowning the highest northern spur of an isolated hill. It rests above steep slopes except on the south, where it faces the relatively level hilltop. The site was extensively excavated in 1954-9 when much early medieval material was recovered. The excavator considered this to be an early medieval fort occupying the site of an open Iron Age settlement, all overlain by a massively enclosed earthwork castle. The many caveats attending this interpretation make it problematic. The fort is a roughly oval 0.08ha enclosure mostly defined by a broad ditched rampart with a palisade on the north. The entrance was at the north-west extremity and would have been approached along the rocky spine of the steep slopes below. There are three additional lines of ramparts on the south, one of which may have continued around the west side. The inner rampart was revetted in stone and appears to have had a timber-framed breastwork. The second rampart, also ditched, is relatively insubstantial. The two outer ramparts are again massive and appear to have been conceived as a pair, the inner again stone revetted. Traces of two rectangular buildings up to 7.5m wide were recorded in the interior. The finds were mostly early medieval, but also included Roman material and fragments of a twelfth century pot. The ramparts overlay deposits containing Iron Age pottery. The fort does not resemble a medieval castle, but rather a later Prehistoric style hillfort and may have been established as late as the Roman period. It was clearly occupied into the early medieval period and the internal buildings could relate to this or else to an ambiguous phase signalled by the twelfth century pottery. A bank and ditch (Bank V) running south from the fort is an old field boundary shown on the 1st edition OS County series (Glamorgan. XLVII.5 1880) and may have been connected with the enigmatic 'causeway'

There is a second defended enclosure 130m away on the southern edge of the hilltop (NPRN 307785). (Coflein)

The monument comprises the remains of a defended settlement site dating from the 5th-7th centuries AD. An important settlement site, excavated in 1954-58, Cwm George is situated at the north end of a high narrow ridge. The end of the ridge is cut off by four concentric banks, three of them large. The low discontinuous bank second from the inside is probably the earliest. Inside the banks evidence has been found for sub-rectangular buildings, and a wealth of finds, including pottery and glass from the east Mediterranean. Such artefacts indicate that the occupants were of high status and wealth. (Scheduling Report)

Gatehouse Comments

Timber castle precursor to Dinas Powys Castle on a site occupied since the Iron Age, including Dark Ages when site was defensive. Excavated by Leslie Alcock; his excavations showed that the ringwork was dismantled systematically in the early C12 presumably replaced by the nearby castle. Renn (1973) writes 'perhaps a siege work of the masonry castle' presumably in the sense of the existing earthwork being used in this way, rather than than as a new construction.

- 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 ReferenceST148722
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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. 94-5
  • Higham, R. and Barker, P., 1992, Timber Castles (Batsford)
  • < >RCAHMW, 1991, An Inventory of the Ancient Monuments in Glamorgan Vol. 3 Part 1a: The Early Castles (London: HMSO) < > CR7 p. 95-100
  • Salter, Mike, 1991, The Castles of Gwent, Glamorgan and Gower (Malvern) p. 49
  • Davis, Paul R., 1988, Castles of the Welsh Princes (Swansea)
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 163
  • Davis, Paul R., 1983, Castles of Glamorgan (Alun Books) p. 45
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 348
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 164, 166
  • < >Alcock, L., 1963, Dinas Powys: An Iron Age, Dark Age and Early Medieval Settlement in Glamorgan (Cardiff: University of Wales Press) < > esp p. 73-102


  • Spurgeon, Jack, 1987, 'The Castles of Glamorgan' Château Gaillard Vol. 13 p. 211
  • 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
  • Alcock, Leslie, 1959, 'Recent archaeological excavation and discovery in Glamorgan' Morgannwg Vol. 3 p. 103-5 online copy
  • Alcock, Leslie, 1958, 'Recent archaeological excavation and discovery in Glamorgan' Morgannwg Vol. 2 p. 69-71 online copy [online copy > http://welshjournals.llgc.org.uk/browse/viewobject/llgc-id:1169910/article/000042241]
  • Alcock, Leslie, 1957, 'Recent archaeological excavation and discovery in Glamorgan' Morgannwg Vol. 1 p. 55-6 online copy
  • Alcock, Leslie, 1956-8, Bulletin of the Board of Celtic Studies Vol. 17 p. 131-6
  • Alcock, Leslie, 1954-6, Bulletin of the Board of Celtic Studies Vol. 16 p. 242-50