Sycharth Castle, Llansilin

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Motte)

There are earthwork remains

NameSycharth Castle, Llansilin
Alternative NamesCastle of Owain Glyndwr; Saghern
Historic CountryDenbighshire
Modern AuthorityPowys
1974 AuthorityClwyd
CommunityLlansilin

At Sycharth are the well preserved earthworks of a medieval castle occupying a low knoll in the base of the Cynllaith valley, below its steep wooded slopes. The castle may be as early as the twelfth century, but direct evidence is lacking. It was fullsomely, but obliquely described in a poem of about 1390 and was burnt in 1403, having no further history. This is a motte and bailey castle, consisting of a large ditched earthen motte or castle mound, 50m in diameter and 10.6m high with a 26m diameter summit, with a crescentic bailey platform, 64m across and 32m deep, on the south-west side. Excavations of a small part of the motte top in 1962-3 only uncovered evidence for two timber framed buildings, part of what the 1390 poem describes as 'a fine wooden house atop a green hill'. Further buildings, including a great lordly hall, would have stood within the bailey. The poem mentions a mill, fishponds, a warren and a deerpark containing a lodge. (Coflein)

Poem describes timber hall on motte as a framed building of post and truss type, not a cruck building. It had 8 upper rooms, a tiled roof, chimney and nine 'wardrobes' (Peate, I C, 2000, 130). Geophysical survey funded by Cadw in 2009. This revealed, amongst other things, a second enclosure to the north. (Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust HER)

Gatehouse Comments

Manor held by Owain Glyndwr and destroyed in 1403. Excavations 1962-3 uncovered traces of stone-cill walled buildings upon the motte. Excavations showed the castle still in use in C14 but was never given masonry defences and this was the caput of Glyndwr estate before his rebellion.

- 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 ReferenceSJ205258
Latitude52.8244895935059
Longitude-3.18084001541138
Eastings320520
Northings325860
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Books

  • Kenyon, John, 2010, The Medieval Castles of Wales (University of Wales Press) p. 51-52
  • Morgan, Gerald, 2008, Castles in Wales: A Handbook (Talybont: Y Lolfa Cyf.) p. 115-6
  • Davis, Paul R., 2007, Castles of the Welsh Princes (Y Lolfa) p. 94
  • Emery, Anthony, 2000, Greater Medieval Houses Vol. 2 (Cambridge) p. 621
  • Pettifer, Adrian, 2000, Welsh Castles, A Guide by Counties (Boydell Press) p. 68
  • Peate, I.C., 2000, The Welsh House p. 130
  • Salter, Mike, 1997, The Castles of North Wales (Malvern) p. 84
  • Burnham, H., 1995, A Guide to Ancient and Historic Wales: Clwyd and Powys (Cadw, London)
  • Davies, R.R., 1995, The Revolt of Owain Glyndwr (Oxford University Press, Oxford)
  • Higham, R. and Barker, P., 1992, Timber Castles (Batsford) p. 300-3
  • Caseldine, A., 1990, Environmental Archaeology in Wales (Cadw/StDUC) p. 129 (pollen study)
  • Owen, D.H., 1989, Settlement and Society in Wales (University of Wales Press, Cardiff)
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 104
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 381
  • Lloyd, J.E., 1931, Owen Glendower (Oxford University Press) p. 61
  • RCAHMW, 1914, An inventory of the Ancient Monuments of Denbighshire (HMSO) p. 154 no. 554 online copy
  • Lewis, Samual, 1849, A Topographical Dictionary of Wales online copy

Journals

  • Smith, Spencer Gavin, 2003-4, 'The Sycharth Research Project' Castle Studies Group Bulletin Vol. 17 p. 75-6 (news report)
  • Smith, Spencer Gavin, 2003, 'Report on the Geophysical and Historical Survey at Sycharth Motte and Bailey' Transactions of the Denbighshire Historical Society Vol. 52 p. 17-36
  • Avent, Richard, 1994, 'Castles of the Welsh Princes' Château Gaillard Vol. 16 p. 11-17
  • King, D.J.Cathcart, 1972, 'The Field Archaeology of mottes; Eine kurze übersicht' Château Gaillard Vol. 5 p. 101-112
  • 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)
  • Hague, D.B., and Warhurst, C., 1966. ‘Excavations at Sycharth Castle. Denbighshire 1962-3’. Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 115 p. 108-27
  • Crampton, C.B., 1966, 'Pollen analysis report In Hague Excavations at Sycharth Castle, Denbighshire 1962-3' Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 115 p. 12
  • Hague, D.B., and Warhurst, C., 1964. ‘Sycharth Castle’ Medieval Archaeology Vol. 8 p. 261-2 download 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
  • Richards, R., 1948, 'Sycharth' Montgomeryshire Collections Vol. 50 p. 183-8 online copy
  • Richards, R., 1942, 'The mediaeval castles of north Montgomeryshire: a topographical survey I' Montgomeryshire Collections Vol. 47 p. 164-82 online copy
  • Hemp, W.J., 1923, Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 78 p. 396-8