Tomen Gastell, Bala

Has been described as a Possible Timber Castle (Motte)

There are earthwork remains

NameTomen Gastell, Bala
Alternative NamesTomen y Castell; Hen Hafod; Llanfor
Historic CountryMerioneth
Modern AuthorityGwynedd
1974 AuthorityGwynedd

A roughly circular mound set hard by the point where the road east of Bala crosses the Nant Meloch and washed by its waters and those of a tributary, on the north and east sides. The mound has been identified as a castle mount, although it is more often thought to be a natural feature. The mound is about 50m across and 4.0-5.0m high with a level summit some 18-20m across. Where it is not fringes by streams the mound is bordered by the road on the south and a garden on the west, so that there is no trace of a ditch, if this existed. (Coflein–John Wiles 10.07.07)

This is a small mound placed in the fork formed by the junction of a small stream with the river Meloch, on the north side of the modern high road between Bala and Corwen. It stands from 12 to 15 feet high, and is about 60 feet in diameter at the top. There are no signs of an attached court or ditch, but it has so obviously suffered mutilation that these features may have been swept away. Pont Tomen gastell has replaced a bridge which in Edward Lhuyd's time (c.1700) was called 'Pont rhyd y Ffraink,' a name which attests the character and era of the adjoining mound (RCAHMW, 1921). A large mound, entirely natural and showing no signs of ever having been used as a motte. No bailey could ever have existed (Hemp, W.J., 1943). Natural mound, partly shaped (on N & E sides) by streams. A garden has been constructed on the west slope and landscaped (soil added). Any ditch here would have been destroyed by building of a house and outbuildings (OS). (Gwynedd Archaeological Trust HER)

Gatehouse Comments

This is a natural mound with some question as to if it was adapted for use as a small motte. The location would be useful as a taxation point or, arguably, as an outwork or observation post for Bala. If used in this sort of way the lack of a bailey (or a slight bailey now lost) might not be significant. However it may just be a natural mound the location of which has mislead some writers.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

Not Listed

The National Monument Record (Coflein) number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSH950372
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  • Morgan, Gerald, 2008, Castles in Wales: A Handbook (Talybont: Y Lolfa Cyf.) p. 255 (listed as possible)
  • King, D.J.C. with Kenyon, J.R., 2001, 'The Castles: a Study in Military Architecture' in Smith J.B. and Smith L.B. (eds), History of Merioneth Vol. 2 p. 413
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 277
  • RCAHMW, 1921, An inventory of the Ancient Monuments of Merionethshire (HMSO) p. 117 no. 363 online copy


  • 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
  • Renn, D.F., 1959, 'Mottes: a classification' Antiquity Vol. 33 p. 106-12