Syke Rath

Has been described as a Questionable Timber Castle (Motte)

There are earthwork remains

NameSyke Rath
Alternative NamesSyke Castle
Historic CountryPembrokeshire
Modern AuthorityPembrokeshire
1974 AuthorityDyfed
CommunityWalwyn's Castle

Syke Rath is a small inland promontory fort, most likely Iron Age in date, overlooking a river which runs into Broad Haven at Sandyhaven Pill. The maximum extent of the fort is 140m north to south by 80m east to west and it encloses an internal area of 0.3ha. The steep valley side of the river offers natural protection along the south and east sides of the fort, whilst on the west a shallower river valley also offers some natural protection. To enhance this, a single earthwork bank, probably topped by a wall or palisade was constructed. The main defences of the fort cross the neck of the promontory on its vulnerable north side. Here there are three lines of defence, an inner and middle rampart situated close together with an outer rampart some 20m to the north and thus enclosing an additional annexe area.

Syke Rath is an interesting site and one of a number of forts situated along the river valley; Capeston Rath (NPRN 305349) 1km to the south is comparable in size, whilst Walwyn's Castle (NPRN 305342) 1km to the north was on a much larger scale. The surviving earthworks suggest there was reoccupation here, possibly in the early medieval or medieval period. At this point part of the inner and middle rampart was remodelled to create a mound at the eastern end of the ramparts. A hollow inside this mound suggests a structure once stood on top. This arrangement has similarities; albeit on a much smaller scale to two of the larger Pembrokeshire castles of Walwyn's Castle and Nevern (NPRN 304392).

A detailed survey of the fort was undertaken by the RCAHMW and members of the Walwyn's Castle Local History Society, The Havens Local History Society and Coastlands Local History Society in 2007. Louise Barker, RCAHMW, 13th June 2008 (Coflein)

Syke Rath is a bivallate inland promontory fort with a second line of defence, possibly defending an annexe

The site is fairly well protected to the east, south and west by steep, wooded slopes that fall away by 10m-15m into minor valleys. The northern, easily approachable side is protected by bivallate ramparts, c 50m long. The inner bank rises some 0.5m above the interior and 1.2m above the ditch. The second bank is up to 1m high and rises 2m above the external ditch. The banks are fairly widely spaced, with the whole system some 45m wide. Both banks stop short of the steep slope on the east side, probably indicating the location of the entrance, although there seems to have been some disturbance here. The triangular interior defined by this defence measures 80m N-S and 56m E-W.

Some 30m to the north of this bivallate defence is a lighter rampart. This seems to define a small annexe or could be an earlier/later phase. It, too, stops short of the steep slope on the east side. The annexe defined by this bank measures 30m by 70m.

The interior and main ramparts are under improved pasture, the annexe defence is under a hedge. K Murphy 20 November 2006 - compiled from several sources (Murphy et al 2006)

The monument comprises the remains of a defended enclosure, which probably dates to the Iron Age period (c. 800 BC - AD 74, the Roman conquest of Wales). Inland promontory forts are usually located on a ridge or spur with steep slopes on 2 or 3 sides, and artificial ramparts on the level approaches. Alternatively they may have been constructed on a promontory above the confluence of two rivers, or in the bend of a meander. Syke Rath is defended on the north by double bank with ditch in between, and on other sides by steep slopes. Entrance at noth-east where the outerbank tuns in to meet the inner. (Scheduling Report)

Gatehouse Comments

A slight suggestion of medieval re-use including the suggestion of the making of a mound and comparison's with nearby Walwyn's Castle are not particularly convincing.

- 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 ReferenceSM872102
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  • RCAHMW, 1925, An inventory of the Ancient Monuments of Pembrokeshire (HMSO) p. 408 no. 1153 online copy


  • K Murphy, R Ramsey, P Poucher and M Page, 2007, A Survey of Defended Enclosures in Pembrokeshire, 2006-07: Gazetteer of Ordnance Survey Grid Squares SM71, SM81 and SM91 (Prepared by Cambria Archaeology) p. 39 online copy