Porthamal Tower

Has been described as a Certain Fortified Manor House

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NamePorthamal Tower
Alternative NamesPorthamel; Porthamael; Great Porthaml
Historic CountryBrecknockshire
Modern AuthorityPowys
1974 AuthorityPowys

Site of C15th manor house attested by fortified perpendicular gateway and barn with C15th-C16th doorways. No other extant medieval remains. Formerly seat of William Vaughan a local sheriff of 1539. (Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust HER)

Located axially on the approach to Great Porth-amel farmhouse, below the NW side of the main road from Talgarth to Hay. History: Gatehouse to the major medieval manor house of the area, the Vaughan family seat, and providing access through what Leland described as 'a strong wall embatteled' enclosing a precinct around the the seat of the Vaughan family, which had been largely demolished by the early C19. Exterior: Two storey gatehouse, late C15, red sandstone with some lighter coloured stone, stone slate roof. Wide 4-centred carriage arches, similar both at front and back, with hood moulding, the outer arch having a segmental inner arch to permit the closing of gates. Ashlar sides show scars for precinct wall with wall walk and parapet, which remained as late as 1911. Large window from stair on N side, behind wall. Upper floor has 2-light windows with hood moulds. Crenellated parapet, stepping up to accommodate head of stair in NE corner. Pyramidal roof behind C19 timber gates. Carved gargoyles. Interior: Within the through carriageway, the walls are rendered and the vault carried on ribs springing from stilted round-moulded corbels, the ribs having an ogee and hollow chamfer. Chamfered door to stair in N wall, rising past a large window to the first floor chamber. Chamber has 2-light windows in square heads, inset, the spandrels with outer casement mouldings. Original ferrumenta but no glazing line. A fireplace within a depressed arch set in a chimney breast slightly forward of the S wall, with a relieving arch over. Wall stair continues to the slabbed wall walk. Listed I as a rare survival of a medieval domestic gatehouse, being one of only 3 in Powys, and one including stonemasonry of the highest quality

(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 ReferenceSO159351
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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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  • Emery, Anthony, 2000, Greater Medieval Houses Vol. 2 (Cambridge)
  • Reid, Alan, 1998, Castles of Wales (John Jones Publishing) p. 121
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 22
  • Smith, P. 1975, The Houses of the Welsh Countryside (HMSO) p. 137
  • Jones, Theophilius, 1898, A History of the County of Brecknock (Brecknock) Vol. 2 p. 339 online copy
  • Lewis, Samual, 1849, A Topographical Dictionary of Wales online copy


  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1906, Leland's Itinerary in Wales  (Bell and Sons; London) p. 108 online copy


  • 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
  • Jones, S.R. and Smith, J.T., 1964, 'The houses of Breconshire. Part II' Brycheiniog Vol. 10 p. 76-83 online copy