Brecon Castle

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Motte), and also as a Certain Masonry Castle

There are major building remains

NameBrecon Castle
Alternative NamesAberhonddu; Aberhodeny; Aberhodni; Brecknock; Brecheinoc
Historic CountryBrecknockshire
Modern AuthorityPowys
1974 AuthorityPowys
CommunityBrecon

A motte and bailey castle was built in Brecon in the eleventh century. Only the southern wall of the three-storey Great Hall built in the late C13 or early C14 survives. It is pierced by four Early English style, and four lancet windows. Crenellations and arrow loops also survive. The lines of the eastern curtain wall of the castle and the opposite wall of the Great Hall have been uncovered during excavation work. The piers of the hall have been found in the domestic quarters of the hotel which surrounds the courtyard. The castle site comprises a roughly triangular area, about 130m north-south and 100m across the north, tapering to a blunt point in the south above the confluence of the Usk & Honddu rivers. The Honddu divides the castle from the medieval & later borough to the east (NPRN 32994). The castle precincts are generally defined by banks & scarps, with a motte occupying the north-east angle, topped by the remains of a tower complex, the Ely Tower (NPRN 309157). The ruins of the hall - as desribed above - lie within the southern part of the enclosure. The castle is divided in two by Castle Square, the area to the north, including the motte & Ely Tower, having been laid out as a garden (NPRN 86045), the southern portion, with the hall remains, being occupied by the Castle Inn/Hotel & its grounds (NPRN 25234). (Coflein record ref. J.Wiles, RCAHMW, 12 July 2004)

The Great Hall of three storeys was constructed by Humphrey de Bohun circa 1280. A motte and bailey castle with wooden structures was built by Bernard de Neufmarche in late C11, and later rebuilt in stone. C12 keep known as Ely Tower remains on the Castle motte to N. The outer bailey is largely covered by the older part of the Brecon Castle Hotel. Brecon Castle became a ruin by the early C17 but was used as the County Gaol until circa 1690 when a gaol in the Watton was built

The lines of the eastern curtain wall of the Castle and the opposite wall of the Great Hall have been revealed during excavations together with the piers of the medieval hall which have been discovered in the structure of the C19 domestic quarters of the hotel which surround the courtyard just to the north of the southern wall of the medieval Great Hall. The hall is known to have been re-roofed circa 1550.

Stone remains of medieval great hall. The south wall still stands and is pierced by four trefoiled windows of Early English style with four smaller lancet-headed openings below. To E, tower with crenellated parapet with arrow loops. Right return has projecting staircase turret. To rear, facing hotel, 2-light mullioned windows. (Listed Building Report)

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law

Historic Wales CADW listed database record number
The National Monument Record (Coflein) number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSO043287
Latitude51.9494895935059
Longitude-3.39388990402222
Eastings304341
Northings228793
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Copyright Carol Howard All Rights Reserved
Copyright Carol Howard All Rights Reserved
Copyright Carol Howard All Rights Reserved
Copyright Carol Howard All Rights Reserved
Copyright Carol Howard All Rights Reserved
Copyright Carol Howard All Rights Reserved
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Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All rights reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All rights reserved

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Books

  • Goodall, John, 2011, The English Castle 1066-1650 (Yale University Press) p. 414
  • Purton, P.F., 2009, A History of the Late Medieval Siege: 1200-1500 (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press) p. 43 (1233 siege)
  • Morgan, Gerald, 2008, Castles in Wales: A Handbook (Talybont: Y Lolfa Cyf.) p. 47-8
  • Salter, Mike, 2001, The Castles of Mid Wales (Malvern) p. 12-13 (plan)
  • Pettifer, Adrian, 2000, Welsh Castles, A Guide by Counties (Boydell Press) p. 8-9
  • Reid, Alan, 1998, Castles of Wales (John Jones Publishing) p. 31-2
  • Remfry, Paul, 1998, Castles of Breconshire (Logaston Press) p. 91-8 (plan)
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 16
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 326-7
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 116
  • 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. 575
  • Oman, Charles W.C., 1926, Castles (1978 edn Beetham House: New York) p. 170-1
  • Armitage, Ella S., 1912, The Early Norman Castles of the British Isles (London) p. 290
  • Timbs, J. and Gunn, A., 1872, Abbeys, Castles and Ancient Halls of England and Wales Vol. 3 (London) p. 482-3 online copy
  • Lewis, Samual, 1849, A Topographical Dictionary of Wales online copy
  • Grose, Francis, 1787, The Antiquities of England (London) Vol. 7 p. 9-10 online copy
  • Buck, Samuel and Nathenial, 1774, Buck’s Antiquities (London) Vol. 2 p. 351

Antiquarian

Journals

  • Coldstream, N., 2003 'Architects, Advisers and Design at Edward I’s Castles in Wales' Architectural History Vol. 46 p. 19-36
  • Kenyon, John R., 1996, 'Fluctuating Frontiers: Normanno-Welsh Castle Warfare c. 1075 to 1240' Château Gaillard Vol. 17 p. 119-126
  • Parry, E.G., 1993, ‘The Castle of Brecon Hotel’ Brycheiniog Vol. 25 p. 97-105 online copy
  • Silvester, R.J., 1989. ‘Castle Of Brecon Hotel. Brecon’ Archaeology in Wales Vol. 29 p. 58
  • Thompson, M.W., 1986, 'Associated monasteries and castles in the Middle Ages: a tentative list' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 143 p. 311
  • Knight, J.K., 1974, ‘Brecon Castle’, The 121st Annual Meeting in South Brecknock, 1974, CAA p. 12-14
  • 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
  • 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
  • King, D.J.C., 1961, ‘The castles of Breconshire’ Brycheiniog Vol. 7 p. 75-6 no. 2 online copy
  • 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)

Primary Sources

  • Giraldus Cambrensis, c.1188, Journey Through Wales view online transcription
  • Giraldus Cambrensis, c.1183, Description of Wales view online transcription
  • Thorpe, B. (ed), 1849, Florentii Wigorniensis monachi. Chronicon ex Chronicis (London) Vol. 2 p. 31 online copy
  • Brut y Tywysogion 1215, 1233 (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)
  • Williams (ab Ithel), John, (ed), 1860, Annales Cambriae (444 – 1288) (London: Longman, Green, Longman, and Roberts)1231 p. 78 online copy
  • Hog, T. (ed), 1845, F. Nicholai Triveti de ordine frat. praedicatorum Annales sex regum Angliae, qui a comitibus andegavensibus originem traxerunt (English Historical Society) p. 254 online copy
  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1903, Calendar of Patent Rolls Henry III (1225-32) Vol. 2 p. 336, 339, 427, 434 online copy
  • 'Annales de Margam' in Luard, H.R (ed), 1857, Annales Monastici (Rolls Series 36) Vol. 1 p. 38 online copy
  • Bémont, C., 1884, Simon de Montfort Comte de Leicester (Paris) p. 379 (mention in a fragment of a chronicle of Battle Abbey on the War of the Barons (1258-1265)) online copy
  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1895, Calendar of Close Rolls Edward I (1272-1279) Vol. 1 p. 56 view online copy (subscription required)
  • Hingeston, F.C. (ed), 1860, Royal and Historical Letters Henry IV (Rolls Series 18) p. 146-8 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. 99-101
  • The National Archives E36/150 Survey of the lands late of Edward, duke of Buckingham, attainted online details
  • E36/150 (Survey of 1521) (calendared in Brewer, J.S. (ed), 1867, Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, of the Reign of Henry VIII Vol. 3 p. 508 No. 1286 online copy)
  • SP14/82 (Survey of 1609) The National Archives reference
  • E178/5866 (Survey of 7 Charles I) The National Archives reference