Penrhos Castle

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Motte)

There are earthwork remains

NamePenrhos Castle
Alternative NamesPenros; Penros Farm; Coed y mount
Historic CountryMonmouthshire
Modern AuthorityMonmouthshire
1974 AuthorityGwent
CommunityLlantilio Crossenny

Penrhos Castle is a ditched motte, about 30m in diameter and 6.0m high, standing towards the south of an irregular oval enclosure, about 40m by 80m, defined by a ditch, with an internal bank on the north-east and having a counterscarp except to the south-east. It is possibly the castle mentioned as being demolished c.1252. The castle earthworks appear to be set within the south-west angle of a roughly subrectangular earthwork enclosure, about 160m east-west by 160m, whose eastern side is obscured by a current road; OS County series, 3rd ed. (Monmouth. XIII.4 1920), shows the the scarp of this enclosure's south-west angle where it springs from the south of the castle earthworks. (Coflein)

Moated tumulus 173ft in diameter at its base. N and S 'half-moon' banks also moated, and a trench or hollow way issues from its W side and winds round to the N. Little trace of bailey to N. A castle of Penrhos is mentioned in a patent of 1261, and a year later William de Cantalupe was pardoned for having demolished the Castle of Penrose that belonged to John de Monmouth. This castle may have been on these earthworks. (Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust HER)

A motte and bailey timber and earthwork castle never re-built in stone. Documentary evidence suggests that it may have been built by John of Monmouth c. AD 1248 during a border dispute with William de Cantilupe. It appears to have a very short violent history, probably being dismantled in AD 1253 (Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust)

The monument comprises the remains of a motte and bailey castle, a military stronghold built during the medieval period. The site stands in a commanding position on a ridge top, with extensive views to the N and W. The motte is around 5m high with a flat top 13m in diameter and has very steep sides. A ditch surrounds the base of the motte

Its dimensions vary around its circumference but it is a maximum of 2.5m wide and 2m deep, and there is a narrow causeway crossing it on the NE side. Outside the ditch, surrounding the motte, is a roughly oval area of flat ground enclosed by an outer ditch. This flat area is 12m wide to the NE of the motte and 7m to the S. At the outer edge of the flat area there is a steep drop, of up to 3m, down to the outer ditch. A narrow bank surrounds the outer ditch, this is up to 1.5m high, and beyond it on the W side the ground slopes steeply away. The bailey area extends from the outer ditch to the N, but is no longer visible. The castle was built by John of Monmouth in 1248, but was seized three times by William de Cantilupe the younger, and finally 'thrown down' by William in 1253. (Scheduling Report)

Gatehouse Comments

Administrative center of a sub-lordship of Abergavenny.

- 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 ReferenceSO409132
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink

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  • Morgan, Gerald, 2008, Castles in Wales: A Handbook (Talybont: Y Lolfa Cyf.) p. 243 (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. 293-5
  • Pettifer, Adrian, 2000, Welsh Castles, A Guide by Counties (Boydell Press) p. 146
  • 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. 287
  • Rees, Wm, 1932, Map of South Wales and the Border in the 14th century (Ordnance Survey) (A handbook to the map was published in 1933
  • Bradney, J.A., 1904-33, History of Monmouthshire Vol. 2 p. 85-6


  • Olding, F., 2000, 'Penrhos Castle' Gwent Local History Vol. 88 p. 3-16
  • Hogg, A.H.A. and King, D.J.C., 1967, 'Masonry castles in Wales and the Marches: a list' Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 116 p. 71-132 (survived into C13 without being rebuilt in stone)
  • 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
  • 1909, Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 64 p. 138
  • Wakeman, T.,1855, 'Pre-Historic Remains in Monmouthshire' Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 10 p. 14-15 online copy

Primary Sources

  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1908, Calendar of Patent Rolls Henry III (1247-58) Vol. 4 p. 28, 29, 97-8, 100 online copy
  • Rickard, John, 2002, The Castle Community. The Personnel of English and Welsh Castles, 1272-1422 (Boydell Press) (lists sources for 1272-1422) p. 316


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