Caerwent Motte

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Motte)

There are earthwork remains

NameCaerwent Motte
Alternative NamesCastell Gwent
Historic CountryMonmouthshire
Modern AuthorityMonmouthshire
1974 AuthorityGwent

The motte at Caerwent is a subcircular, originally ditched mound, about 24m in diameter, raised over the south-eastern angle of the defences of the Roman town (Nprn93753). A 'castell of Gwent' is mentioned in about 1150. (Coflein)

The interpretation of the site, based on actual remains and location is that the small motte represents a watch-tower or guard-post. Caerwent does not present any outworks that would be expected for a castle in hostile territory and its size does not suggest intensive use at anytime. Based on the possibility that it guarded the quarry source for Chepstow, the motte may be early. (Phillips)

The monument consists of the remains of Venta Silurum, the most important civilian Roman settlement in Wales and the administrative capital, or civitas, of the Silures tribe. The surviving town walls are among the finest examples of Roman masonry in Britain and it was the standing remains that attracted early antiquaries to the town. In the 16th century William Camden noted 'the ruinous walls, the chequer'd pavements (mosaics), and the Roman coyns', while in the 17th and 18th centuries mosaics were uncovered, and most destroyed. Since 1899 over half of the area within the walls has been excavated with the result that much is known about the layout of the town. The settlement at Caerwent was established in the late 1st century AD, soon after the Roman conquest of South Wales, and was located on the line of the road connecting Gloucester with Carmarthen. In the SE corner of the town, overlying the Roman wall is a small medieval Motte around 24m in diameter and 5m high. There is no record as to the date and function of this castle, but it is likely to be 11th or 12th century in date and was probably built to take advantage of the defensive capabilities of the substantial Roman walls. (Scheduling Report)

Gatehouse Comments

Although the motte lacks outworks the large Roman town walls were and are intact and survive virtually to full height. This would make an ideal camp for a large cavalry force but would be far to large for a castle with a limited garrison.

- 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 ReferenceST470903
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  • Goodall, John, 2011, The English Castle 1066-1650 (Yale University Press) p. 76, 219, 220
  • Kenyon, John, 2010, The Medieval Castles of Wales (University of Wales Press) p. 107
  • Morgan, Gerald, 2008, Castles in Wales: A Handbook (Talybont: Y Lolfa Cyf.) p. 242 (listed)
  • Prior, Stuart, 2006, A Few Well-Positioned Castles: The Norman Art of War (Tempus) p. 110-164
  • Phillips, Neil, 2006, Earthwork Castles of Gwent and Ergyng AD 1050-1250 (British Archaeological Reports) p. 138-9
  • Pettifer, Adrian, 2000, Welsh Castles, A Guide by Counties (Boydell Press) p. 123
  • Brewer, Richard J., 1993, Caerwent Roman Town (CADW) p. 42
  • Salter, Mike, 1991, The Castles of Gwent, Glamorgan and Gower (Malvern) p. 74 (slight)
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 281
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 333
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 127


  • Rees, S.E. and Anthony, M., 2006, 'Caerwent Roman town: conservation, excavation and interpretation' Monmouthshire Antiquarian Vol. 22 p. 57-72
  • Knight, Jeremy K., 1994, 'Welsh Fortifications of the first Millenium A.D.' Château 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

Guide Books

  • Brewer, R.J., 2006 (3edn), Caerwent Roman town (Cardiff: CADW)

Primary Sources

  • Rees, W. (ed), 1840, Liber Landavensis p. 32, 43, 571, 584 online copy


  • Phillips, Neil, 2005, Earthwork Castles of Gwent and Ergyng AD 1050-1250 (PhD Thesis University of Sheffield) Download