St Illtyds Castle, Llanhilleth

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Motte)

There are earthwork remains

NameSt Illtyds Castle, Llanhilleth
Alternative NamesTwyn; Llanhithel; Castell Hithell; Y Tump; Twmp Siencyn Sion; Twmp y Castell
Historic CountryMonmouthshire
Modern AuthorityBlaenau Gwent
1974 AuthorityGwent

A castle mount standing on the south-west side of St Iltyd's church (NPRN 12897). This may be the 'Castell Hithell' destroyed in 1233. This is a roughly circular steep-sided flat-topped mound, about 36m in diameter and 4.0m high. The 16-17m diameter summit has been rather multilated. A ditch runs around the base of the mound, with a causway on the southern side. An elaborate and ornate masonry castle of two great towers has been excavated to the north of the churchyard (NPRN 91965). This is dated to the fourteenth century and presumably replaced the castle of the mount. (Coflein)

The monument comprises the remains of a motte and ditch, dating to the medieval period (c. 1066 -1540 AD). The monument consists of a steep-sided mound, 35m in diameter, with a flat summit 17m in diameter. On the S side the mound is 3.5m high with a ditch or quarry hole, 2m wide and 1.5m deep, towards the W end. The W side is 5m high and very steep. At its base is a flat-bottomed ditch 4m wide and 1m deep which stops halfway along the N side. On the NE side there is a hollow 8m long and 0.6m deep. A retaining wall has been built along the base of the motte on the E side. A path leads up the mound from the N side to the summit. (Scheduling Report)

Gatehouse Comments

A record of 1233 records Llywelyn the Graet burnt "the castrum called Castell Hithell" this may refer to either castle at Llanhilleth. See also Castell Taliorum, Llanhilleth. Phillips interprets this as an early 'watch tower' motte. This seems a fairly straight forward manorial centre dressed up with some fairly simple C12 martial symbolism, although there must be an impressive view from the hill top site.

- 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 ReferenceSO217019
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  • Morgan, Gerald, 2008, Castles in Wales: A Handbook (Talybont: Y Lolfa Cyf.) p. 244 (listed)
  • Davis, Paul R., 2007, Castles of the Welsh Princes (Y Lolfa) p. 105 (mention)
  • 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. 320-1
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 285
  • Bailey, H. W. 1957, History of the Parish of Llanhilleth
  • Bradney, J.A., 1904-33, History of Monmouthshire Vol. 1 p. 463
  • Coxe, W., 1801, An Historical Tour in Monmouthshire (London) Vol. 2 p. 253


  • Dunkin, E.H.W., 1872, 'Notes of An Antiquarian Ramble Among The Monmouthshire Hills' Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 27 p. 153-58 (esp p. 154) online copy

Primary Sources

  • Jones. T., 1952, Brut y Tywysogion : Peniarth MS 20 Version. (Cardiff: University of Wales Press) p. 4, 135


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