St Clears Castle

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

There are earthwork remains

NameSt Clears Castle
Alternative NamesBanc y Beili; Ystrad Cyngen; Rhyd Y Gors; St Clare
Historic CountryCarmarthenshire
Modern AuthorityCarmarthenshire
1974 AuthorityDyfed
CommunitySt Clears

Earthworks thought to represent the castle, recorded as destroyed, 1215-16, associated with a borough, first mentioned in 1248: an oval mound, some 48m east-west by 38m, rising 12.2m to a level summit, some 15m by 10m, is set above a rectangular bailey enclosure, some 70m by 45m, defined by incomplete scarp lines, laid out on the south; these castle works are thought to have been integrated into, or subsumed by what appears to have been a borough enclosure. (Coflein)

Motte-and-bailey situated on the junction between the Taf and Cynin rivers, probably at the limit of navigable water for the shallow-draught boats that the Norman settlers would have used. The substantial motte, 8m high and an oval 20m by 10m across its top, lies on the north of the site and is well preserved. The large, rectangular bailey extended 50m south of the motte. There are reports of stonework being visible on the summit of the motte, suggesting that it carried a masonry structure in its later history. The castle was probably founded in the late C11, judging from the fact that a Cluniac priory was established at St Clears around 1100 and this would almost certainly have been after the foundation of the castle. (Jeff Thomas–

The monument comprises the remains of a motte and bailey castle, a military stronghold built during the medieval period. A motte and bailey castle comprises a large conical or pyramidal mound of soil or stone (the motte) surrounded by, or adjacent to, one or more embanked enclosures (the bailey). Both may be surrounded by wet or dry ditches and could be further strengthened with palisades, revetments, and/or a tower on top of the motte. Also known as Banc y Beili, the monument comprises the remains of a motte and bailey castle built during the late 11th century. It is located at the confluence of the Rivers Taf and Cynin. The earthen motte is substantial and well preserved. It measures 8m tall

It is oval in shape on plan and measures c. 37m N-S by 46m E-W. The level platform on top of the motte measures c. 10m N-S by 20m E-W and may have supported a masonry structure. The large bailey is roughly rectangular in shape and extends to the S of the motte. It measures c. 75m N-S by 85m E-W. The ditch around the motte and the bank and the ditch around the bailey have been rendered inconspicuous by modern soil movement. (Scheduling Report)

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 ReferenceSN280154
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Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights ReservedView full Sized Image
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights ReservedView full Sized Image
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights ReservedView full Sized Image
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights ReservedView full Sized Image

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  • Kenyon, John, 2010, The Medieval Castles of Wales (University of Wales Press) p. 93
  • Morgan, Gerald, 2008, Castles in Wales: A Handbook (Talybont: Y Lolfa Cyf.) p. 236 (listed)
  • Pettifer, Adrian, 2000, Welsh Castles, A Guide by Counties (Boydell Press) p. 58
  • Davis, Paul, 2000, A Company of Forts. A Guide to the Medieval Castles of West Wales (Gomer Press) p. 40
  • Salter, Mike, 1996, The Castles of South West Wales (Malvern) p. 44
  • Davis, P.R., 1987, Castles of Dyfed (Llandysul: Gomer Press) p. 66
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 59 Vol. 2 p. 567-8
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 378
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 305
  • Richard, A.J., 1935, in Lloyd, J.E. (ed), History of Carmathenshire (Cardiff) Vol. 1 p. 273
  • RCAHMW, 1917, An inventory of the Ancient Monuments of Carmarthenshire (HMSO) p. 238 no. 705 online copy
  • Armitage, Ella, 1912, The Early Norman Castles of the British Isles (London: John Murray) p. 288-9 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. 57 online copy
  • Morris, R.H. (ed), 1911, 'Edward Lhuyd's Parochialia Part III' Archaeologia Cambrensis supplement p. 52


  • King, D.J.C., 1985, ‘St Clears motte and bailey’ 132nd annual meeting, old Carmarthenshire, 1985, CAA p. 15–16
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, ‘Notes on the castle of Saint Clears’, The Carmarthen Antiquary Vol. 19 p. 5–7
  • Thomas, D. Arwyn, 1969, 'St Clears in the Middle Ages 1100-1500' The Carmarthenshire Historian Vol. 6 p. 59-71 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 (survived into C13 without being rebuilt in stone)
  • 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
  • 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)
  • Evans, D.C., 1907, Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 62 p. 224-5 online copy
  • Evans, D.C., 1906-7, Transactions of the Carmarthenshire Antiquarian Society Vol. 2 p. 163 (plate)

Primary Sources

  • William ab Ithel (ed), Brut y Tywysogion Jesus MS 111 (Red Book of Hergest) online copy 1153
  • Giraldus Cambrensis, c.1183, Description of Wales view online transcription
  • Brut y Tywysogion 1189, 1215 (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)1195 online copy
  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1903, Calendar of Patent Rolls Henry III (1225-32) Vol. 2 p. 339 online copy
  • 1906, Calendar of Patent Rolls Henry III (1232-47) Vol. 3 p. 470, 484 online copy
  • Bellaguet, M.L. (ed), 1841, Chronique du religieux de Saint-Denys Vol. 3 p. 326 (c. 1405) online copy