Bronllys Castle

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

There are major building remains

NameBronllys Castle
Alternative NamesBrunless; Brenles; Brynllys; Brendlais
Historic CountryBrecknockshire
Modern AuthorityPowys
1974 AuthorityPowys
CommunityBronllys

Late C11/early C12 motte with C13 round stone keep. Three floors, with fine views. To the north are two baileys each with a bank and ditch. The sites of bastion towers may be detected where there are breaks in the bank and ditch of the outer bailey. A cylindrical tower its base draped in a low mound, at the apex of an irregularly pentagonal enclosure, c.156m by 136m, defined by lengths of banks and ditches. Remains of castle buildings, possibly C16, incorporated in stables of later house , whose gardens have obscured the castle remains. The present tower, probably early- mid-C13, is a second stone rebuild of an earlier C12 structure. Circular plan of 3-storeys plus basement, built of sandstone with no roof. The walls stand to almost full height. The windows are rebated internally for shutters. Vaulted basement.

Motte 8m high topped by a round keep with main and outer baileys defined by a bank and ditch lying to the north. Apparent bastion sites visible as breaks in bank and ditch of outer bailey. The first castle, which had wooden buildings, was probably built by Richard fitz Pons around 1138. The tower was built during the mid C13. It is entered at first floor level and contained a basement for storage or for a prison plus second floor living rooms. During C14 the windows were enlarged and replaced and a top storey was added for a chamber with three windows, a latrine and a fireplace. (Burnham, H 1995, 159-161). (Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust HER)

History: Bronllys Castle was located here to be near a palace or llys of the princes of Brycheiniog, thus both close to the seat of power and controlling the crossing of the River Llynfi

The present tower is the second rebuild in stone by Walter de Clifford II d1220, or III (1221-1263) of the original strong point of the castle of Richard Fitzpons of Clifford, originally erected c.1090-3 for his newly established capital for the cantref of Selyf, now only represented by the motte, with its extensive c.3 ha. inner and outer baileys lying to the N. A stone tower, probably a predecessor of the present one, was damaged by fire in 1175. The castle is believed to have been taken in 1262 and was again captured in 1322. The tower was later modified and was last fortified against the insurrection of Owain Glyndwr. The castle was at various times occupied by the Bohuns, Staffords, and the Crown, and was the home of Bedo Bruinllys the bard, the collector of the poems of Dafydd ap Gwillym. In 1521 it was reported by Leland as being beyond repair. Description: Tightly laid laminated sandstone. No roof. Circular plan comprising 3 storeys and a basement within the apron splayed below a projecting string course, having 1 slit vent. Chamfered arched door on E, probably originally approached by an external wooden stair, leads to a circular chamber with 3 segmental tufa-arched embrasures equally spaced around circumference, that at SW with a window seat and stair to the 2nd floor. The embrasure on the NW is also seated and contains the stair to the vaulted basement. The windows are rebated internally for shutters, and secured by a draw bar. Sockets for ferrumenta and indications of a glazing check in the window head. Wall stair of 15 treads has two small lights. The first, solar, floor is now missing, but was carried on 12 bull-nosed corbels equally spaced around the wall. Seated embrasures on the S and E sides, with C14 ogee-headed foiled windows, also rebated for shutters, and a fireplace with depressed 2-centred chamfered arch on the W side, the hood lintel (missing) carried on finely carved brackets. Some plaster survives on S. From the E embrasure, a rebated stone frame for a door leads to a wall stair to the second floor, again also carried on 12 bullnosed corbels. This level has four similar window embrasures and a chamfered garde-robe doorcase, and a fireplace on the N wall with cantilevered hearth, tapered roll-moulded jambs and corbelled out for the missing hood lintel. The walls survive to their approximate full height, but there is little evidence for the roof. Included at Grade I as among the best preserved examples of the C13 round stone tower fortifications, once widespread in Wales and England, and characteristic of the Welsh Marches. (Listed Building Report)

The castle at Bronllys is sited above the floodplain of Afon Llynfi and is thought to occupy the site of a pre-Norman llys, a princely court. (Coflein)

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 ReferenceSO149346
Latitude52.0035781860352
Longitude-3.24052000045776
Eastings314930
Northings234630
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Copyright Rachael Phillips All Rights Reserved
Copyright Rachael Phillips All Rights Reserved
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Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
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Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
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Books

  • Kenyon, John, 2010, The Medieval Castles of Wales (University of Wales Press) p. 98-99
  • Morgan, Gerald, 2008, Castles in Wales: A Handbook (Talybont: Y Lolfa Cyf.) p. 49-50
  • McNeill, T., 2003, 'Squaring circles: flooring round towers in Wales and Ireland' in Kenyon, J.R. and O'Conor, K. (eds), The medieval castle in Ireland and Wales: essays in honour of Jeremy Knight (Dublin: Four Courts Press) p. 96-106
  • Salter, Mike, 2001, The Castles of Mid Wales (Malvern) p14-
  • Pettifer, Adrian, 2000, Welsh Castles, A Guide by Counties (Boydell Press) p. 9-10
  • Reid, Alan, 1998, Castles of Wales (John Jones Publishing) p. 33
  • Remfry, Paul, 1998, Castles of Breconshire (Logaston Press) p. 135-9 (plans)
  • Burnham, H., 1995, A Guide to Ancient and Historic Wales: Clwyd and Powys (Cadw, London)
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus)
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 327
  • Haslam, R.., 1979, Buildings of Wales: Powys (Yale University Press) p. 302-3
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 118
  • 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. 582
  • Oman, Charles W.C., 1926, Castles (1978 edn Beetham House: New York) p. 169-70
  • Fisher, J. (ed), 1917 Tours in Wales (1804-1813) by Richard Fenton (Cambrian Archaeological Association) online copy
  • Clark, G.T., 1884, Mediaeval Military Architecture in England (Wyman and Sons) Vol. 1 p. 283-5 (Reprint of 1866 Arch. Camb. article) online copy
  • Timbs, J. and Gunn, A., 1872, Abbeys, Castles and Ancient Halls of England and Wales Vol. 3 (London) p. 485-7 online copy
  • Lewis, Samual, 1849, A Topographical Dictionary of Wales online copy
  • King, Edward, 1804, Munimenta antiqua or Observations on antient castles (W.Bulmer and Co) Vol. 3 p. 31-8 online copy
  • Buck, Samuel and Nathenial, 1774, Buck’s Antiquities (London) Vol. 2 p. 353

Antiquarian

  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1906, Leland's Itinerary in Wales  (Bell and Sons; London) p. 111 online copy

Journals

  • Richard Nevell, 2014-15, 'Castles as prisons' Castle Studies Group Journal Vol. 28 p. 203-224
  • Knight, J.K., 1974, ‘Bronllys 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
  • Renn, D.F., 1961, 'The round keeps of the Brecon region' Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 110 p. 138 and plan
  • King, D.J.C., 1961, ‘The castles of Breconshire’ Brycheiniog Vol. 7 p. 76 no. 3 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)
  • Jones, H.E., 1910, 'Bronlyss Tower' Transactions of the Woolhope Naturalists’ Field Club p. 154-7
  • Clark, G.T., 1904, 'Brynllys Castle and Church' Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 59 p. 158-60 online copy
  • Clark, G.T., 1866, 'Some remarks upon Bronllys Tower' Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 21 p. 441-5 online copy
  • (Banks), 1862, 'Bronllys Castle' Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 17 p. 81-92 online copy

Guide Books

  • Smith, J.B. and Knight, J.K., 1981, Bronllys Castle/Castell Bronllys, Powys (HMSO)

Primary Sources

  • Giraldus Cambrensis, c.1188, Journey Through Wales view online transcription
  • 1906, Calendar of Patent Rolls Henry III (1232-47) Vol. 3 p. 25 online copy
  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1895, Calendar of Close Rolls Edward II (1318-1323) Vol. 3 p. 415 view online copy (subscription required)
  • Rickard, John, 2002, The Castle Community. The Personnel of English and Welsh Castles, 1272-1422 (Boydell Press) (lists sources for 1272-1422) p. 101
  • E36/150 (Survey of 1521) The National Archives reference (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 transcription > http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=91063])

Other

  • Hankinson, R., 1995, Talgarth Bypass, Powys: archaeological assessment (CPAT report)