Castell Cwm Aran

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Motte)

There are earthwork remains

NameCastell Cwm Aran
Alternative NamesCymaran; Cymaron; Gemaron; Camaron; Caperun; Cwm Avon; Cwm Aron; Kamhawn; Cans Castle; Cuthremion
Historic CountryRadnorshire
Modern AuthorityPowys
1974 AuthorityPowys
CommunityLlanddewi Ystradenny

Castell Cwm Aran is a subrectangular motte, the summit c.38m by 20m, 15m high above the valley to the S and E, 9.5m high above a rock-cut ditch to the W and N, across which lies a rectilinear bailey, c.47m by 49-62m, also resting on steep slopes to the E, banked and ditched elsewhere, including towards the motte. There is a counterscarp to the W and indications of a further enclosure, c.20m deep, to the N. The whole work is c.150m by 100m overall. The castle was first mentioned in 1144-1195AD. (Coflein)

Roughly rectangular motte rising 9.5m above ditch on N and W and 15m above river flood plain in S and E. Rectangular bailey to N defended by rampart and outer ditch and additional scarping. Entrance to N. Scheduled area enlarged to enclose siegeworks to south 23/8/91. The earthworks are generally in very good condition with little or no damage by grazing animals. Small areas of woody scrub including small trees and gorse are beginning to rejuvenate some areas to the south and south-west have been burnt. (CPAT Tir Gofal assessment, 2004). (Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust HER)

The monument comprises the remains of a motte and bailey castle, a military stronghold built during the medieval period. A motte and bailey castle comprises a large conical or pyramidal mound of soil or stone (the motte) surrounded by, or adjacent to, one or more embanked enclosures (the bailey). Both may be surrounded by wet or dry ditches and could be further strengthened with palisades, revetments, and/or a tower on top of the motte. In this case the motte is roughly rectangular with a summit measuring c.38m by 20m. It stands 15m high above the valley to the south and east, and 9.5m above a rock-cut ditch to the west and north. Across the ditch, to the north of the motte, lies a trapezoidal bailey c.47m by 49-62m, which is surrounded by banks on all four sides

The banks are accompanied by outer ditches on the west and north; the position of a ditch is represented by a scarp along the valley slope on the east, and on the south the ditch is shared with the motte. On the north and west the bailey bank stands c.3-4m above the base of the ditch. An outer counterscarp bank, with a small tump adjoining its southern end, runs along the west side of both the motte and bailey ditches, while there are hints of a further enclosure c.20m deep to the north of the bailey. Across the stream to the south-south-east of the motte, earthen platforms are visible on two levels. It has been suggested that these would be well placed to house siege equipment during an attack on the castle. The site was one of the seats of the Mortimer family in Maeliennydd, and is mentioned frequently in historical sources in the mid- to late-12th century. Its end is uncertain, but it may have been abandoned in favour of Tinboeth nearby. There is no sign that the original earthwork structure was ever refurbished in stone. (Scheduling Report)

Gatehouse Comments

Possible founded during Mortimer conquest of area in 1093. Exchanged hands between Welsh and English several times until possibly finally destroyed by Llywelyn the Great in 1215. Remfry suggests this is the site of Cans Castle recorded in 1134.

- 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 ReferenceSO152703
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink

No photos available. If you can provide pictures please contact Castlefacts

Most of the sites or buildings recorded in this web site are NOT open to the public and permission to visit a site must always be sought from the landowner or tenant.

Calculate Print


  • Remfry, P., 2008, The Castles and History of Radnorshire (SCS Publishing)
  • Morgan, Gerald, 2008, Castles in Wales: A Handbook (Talybont: Y Lolfa Cyf.) p. 250 (listed)
  • Salter, Mike, 2001, The Castles of Mid Wales (Malvern) p. 57
  • Pettifer, Adrian, 2000, Welsh Castles, A Guide by Counties (Boydell Press) p. 181
  • Reid, Alan, 1998, Castles of Wales (John Jones Publishing) p. 50
  • Remfry, P., 1996, Castles of Radnorshire (Logaston Press) p. 92-4
  • Higham, R. and Barker, P., 1992, Timber Castles (Batsford) p. 243
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 407-8, 559, 563
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 345
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 162
  • Colvin, H.M., Brown, R.Allen and Taylor, A.J., 1963, The history of the King's Works Vol. 2: the Middle Ages (London: HMSO) p. 624
  • Howse, W.H., 1949, Radnorshire (Hereford) p. 268
  • Downman, E.A., 1916, Ancient Earthworks in Radnorshire
  • RCAHMW, 1913, An inventory of the Ancient Monuments of Radnorshire (HMSO) p. 73 no. 294 online copy
  • Armitage, Ella, 1912, The Early Norman Castles of the British Isles (London: John Murray) p. 292-3 online copy
  • Davies, Edwin (ed), William, Jonathan, 1905, A General History of the County of Radnor (reprinted from 1858, Archaeologia Cambrensis (ser3) Vol. 4) p. 236-7
  • Lewis, Samual, 1849, A Topographical Dictionary of Wales online copy



  • Remfry, P., 1998, 'Discovering the lost kingdom of Radnor' British Archaeology Vol. 34 p. 10-11
  • 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
  • Kenyon, John R., 1996, 'Fluctuating Frontiers: Normanno-Welsh Castle Warfare c. 1075 to 1240' Château Gaillard Vol. 17 p. 119-126
  • Brown, R, Allen, 1959, 'A List of Castles, 1154–1216' English Historical Review Vol. 74 p. 249-280 (Reprinted in Brown, R. Allen, 1989, Castles, conquest and charters: collected papers (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 90-121) view online copy (subscription required)
  • Brown, R. Allen, 1955, 'Royal Castle-building in England 1154-1216' English Historical Review Vol. 70 (Reprinted in Brown, R. Allen, 1989, Castles, conquest and charters: collected papers (Woodbridge: Boydell Press)) p. 19-64
  • Cole, E.J.L., 1946, 'The Castles of Maelienydd' Transactions of the Radnorshire Society Vol. 16 p. 3-19 online copy
  • Williams, J., 1858, 'History of Radnorshire' Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 13 p. 469-616 esp p. 506-7 online copy

Primary Sources

  • Brut y Tywysogion 1144, 1195 (Several transcriptions and translations exist the best being Jones, T., 1952, Brut Y Twysogion (University of Wales, History and Law series 11)–based on the Peniarth MS 20 version. There is a flawed translation Williams ab Ithel, John, 1860, Brut Y Twysogion or The Chronicle of the Princes (Rolls Series) online copy)
  • Pipe Rolls 1182, 1195 (see Pipe Roll Society for references)