Hen Gastell, Llanrhidian Higher

Has been described as a Questionable Timber Castle (Ringwork)

There are uncertain remains

NameHen Gastell, Llanrhidian Higher
Alternative NamesHen Castell; Dan-y-lan Camp; Pen-clawdd
Historic CountryGlamorgan
Modern AuthoritySwansea
1974 AuthorityWest Glamorgan
CommunityLlanrhidian Higher

The site, at 60m above OD, on ground falling rather steeply to the N, commands a magnificent view northwards over the estuary of the River Loughor. The enclosure is oval in plan, about 50m long from E to W by 30m wide, area 0.1ha. The N side is formed by a natural edge where the ground falls away very steeply. The S side is defended by a massive bank running in a curve. 12m wide at the base, nearly 3m high internally and 1.5m externally; the impression of a wide shallow ditch outside the rampart is mainly caused by an increase in the angle of the natural slope. A slighter continuation of the bank can be traced round either end of the enclosure. The position of the entrance is uncertain. (Wiggins and Evans 2005) (Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust HER)

The monument comprises the remains of a hillfort, which probably dates to the Iron Age period (c. 800 BC - AD 74, the Roman conquest of Wales). Hillforts are usually located on hilltops and surrounded by a single or multiple earthworks of massive proportions. Hillforts must have formed symbols of power within the landscape, while their function may have had as much to do with ostentation and display as defence. Dan-y-lan is situated on the steep northern slope of the hill overlooking the Loughor Estuary. Defended by a single bank and ditch, the earthworks are oval in plan about 50m long from east-west by 30m wide. The northern side is formed by a natural edge, the southern side comprises a massive bank 12m wide at the base and nearly 3m high internally and 1.5m externally. A slighter continuation of the bank can be traced round either end of the enclosure. The position of the entrance is uncertain. (Scheduling Report)

Gatehouse Comments

David King rejected this as a possible castle in 1983 as in an indefensible site. Not shown on the OS map but can be seen on air photo. Spurgeon writes form resembles medieval castle-ringworks, but, with no obvious manorial context, it has been classified as an iron-age earthwork.

- 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 ReferenceSS554957
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  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 174 (reject)
  • RCAHMW, 1976, An Inventory of the Ancient Monuments in Glamorgan Vol. 1 Part 2 (London: HMSO) no. 648 p. 32


  • Spurgeon, C.J. with Roberts, D.J. and Thomas, H.J., 1999, 'Supposed Castles in Glamorgan; A review' Archaeology in Wales Vol. 39 27-40
  • Knight, Jeremy K., 1994, 'Welsh Fortifications of the first Millenium A.D.' Ch√Ęteau Gaillard Vol. 16 p. 277-284
  • 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)
  • Morris, 1957-8, Cardiff Naturalists' Society Vol. 87 p. 23


  • Wiggins, H. and Evans, E., 2005, Prehistoric defended enclosures in Glamorgan with recommendations for fieldwork