Castell Trefilan

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

There are earthwork remains

NameCastell Trefilan
Alternative NamesTrifilan
Historic CountryCardiganshire
Modern AuthorityCeredigion
1974 AuthorityDyfed

Castell Trefilan is a strong castle mound that can be associated with a princely house. It is a rather oval flat-topped and moated mound, about 40m north-south by 35m, and 5.4m high. The oval summit, currently 15m north to south by 12m, is shown as about 21m by 18m on OS County series 1st edition (Cardigan. XXV.8 1888), banked about and enclosing an area approximately 12m across. The moat, generally 60m overall diameter, is thought to have originally held water. Explorations on the motte summit encountered a line of rounded boulders 'like the foundations of a wall' (King 1959, 66). The castle is said (without reference) to have been established in 1233 and may be associated with the 'house' at Trefilan burnt in 1282. Associated with: Suggested borough (NPRN 401517). The trees upon this mound have recently been felled (02.10.03). (Coflein–J.Wiles 08.10.04)

The monument comprises the remains of a motte and ditch, dating to the medieval period (c. 1066 -1540 AD). A motte is a large conical or pyramidal mound of soil and/or stone, usually surrounded by either a wet or dry ditch, and surmounted by a tower constructed of timber or stone. The mound is c.6m to 6.6m high and c.10.5m in diameter across the top. It is surrounded by a broad ditch c.5m wide and 1.8m deep, with an outer bank rising c.3.5m above the ditch and c.1m above the surrounding field. An old trench appears to have been dug across the top of the mound. (Scheduling Report)

Gatehouse Comments

The primary source references, Brut y Tywysogion and Annales Cambriae, were given by King in 1963. The 'house' of Trefilan held 18 prisoners and was a centre for a reported 3000 cattle; there can be little doubt this was Castell Trefilan.

- 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 ReferenceSN549571
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Photo by Therron Welstead. All Rights ReservedView full Sized Image
Photo by Therron Welstead. All Rights ReservedView full Sized Image

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  • Butler, L., 2009, 'The Castles of the Princes of Gwynedd' in Willams, D. and Kenyon, J. (eds), The Impact of the Edwardian Castles in Wales (Oxbow) p. 27-36
  • Morgan, Gerald, 2008, Castles in Wales: A Handbook (Talybont: Y Lolfa Cyf.) p. 79-81
  • Davis, Paul R., 2007, Castles of the Welsh Princes (Y Lolfa) p. 82
  • Davis, Paul, 2000, A Company of Forts. A Guide to the Medieval Castles of West Wales (Gomer Press) p. 41
  • Salter, Mike, 1996, The Castles of South West Wales (Malvern) p. 47 (slight)
  • Davis, Paul R., 1988, Castles of the Welsh Princes (Swansea)
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 47
  • Owen, Henry (ed), 1936, The Description of Pembrokeshire (London) Vol. 4 p. 491-2


  • King, D.J.Cathcart, 1972, 'The Field Archaeology of mottes; Eine kurze übersicht' Château Gaillard Vol. 5 p. 101-112
  • Griffiths, 1966, Welsh Historical Review Vol. 3.2 p. 125 online copy
  • 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., 1956, 'The Castles of Cardiganshire' Ceredigion Vol. 3 p. 66 no. 27 online copy
  • Evans, D.C., 1933, 'Cribyn Clottas. some hill-top camps' Journal of the Cardiganshire Antiquarian Society Vol. 9 p. 25 online copy

Primary Sources

  • Brut y Tywysogion 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) s.a. 1234 online copy
  • Lyte, H.C. Maxwell (ed), 1912, Calendar of various Chancery Rolls - Welsh Rolls 1277-1294 p. 213 online copy
  • Edwards, J.G., 1935, Calendar of Ancient Correspondence Concerning Wales p. 131-2