Caerau Castle

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Ringwork), and also as a Certain Urban Defence

There are earthwork remains

NameCaerau Castle
Alternative NamesKayre; Cayre
Historic CountryGlamorgan
Modern AuthorityCardiff
1974 AuthoritySouth Glamorgan

The undocumented castle-ringwork at Caerau, on high ground at 3.75km W. of Cardiff, and 1,4km N.W. of Brynwell, is of interest for three aspects of its siting: it lies within the N.W. angle of a large multivallate hill-fort from which it derives its name ‘forts’ in Welsh; the abandoned and ruinous church of St Mary’s abuts its defences on the S.W.; and, finally, it lies in the south-western part of the medieval episco­pal manor of Llandaf. Its elevated situation, at 230ft above O.D. within a hill-fort, may be compared with that of Cil Ifor ringwork and Ruperra motte. The siting of early castles beside a church is not uncommon, but here, St Mary’s, though it became a parish church after the Reformation, was originally a chapel of Llandaf.

The ringwork is well-preserved, its strong and noticeably flat-topped bank defining an oval area 52m by 34m, with a gap for the entrance to the S.W., in which direction the site is further protected towards the level interior of the fort by a strong penannular ditch. The bank on the N. side of the entrance is builthigher than the rest, and has a very broad and level top. To the N.E. the bank has been raised over the eroded inner line of the fort. There are no traces of a bailey or of buildings within the ring, although one sherd of 12th-century date is reported.

There is no historical record of the castle, and in the absence of any evidence suggesting an early lay manor here, it seems probable that this was an episco­pal castle, like that at Bishopston Old Castle. The Bishop of Llandaf was a lord marcher, in right of his manor of Llandaf, the temporalities of which, in 1291, were worth almost twice the spiritualities of the entire diocese. By the close of the Middle Ages Caerau (Kayre or Cayre) was held by the Malefants of the bishop, as of his manor of Llandaf

(RCAHMW 1991)

An oval enclosure, c.40m NW-SE by 22m, defined by a rampart and ditch, resting on the NE angle of Caerau ramparts, having an entrance facing SW towards St Mary's church. Thought to be an unrecorded castle belonging to the Bishops of Llandaff. (Coflein)This monument comprises the remains of a hillfort dating from the Iron Age (c. 800 BC – AD 74). It is located at the western end of a ridge, approximately 70-80m above OD. The hillfort survives as multivallate earthworks comprising a large triple-ditched enclosure of triangular shape, enclosing c. 88,400 m2. Three bank and ditch ramparts enclose the northern and western sides whilst on the east a single large bank and ditch with two in-turned entrances are located. There is evidence for past cultivation within the interior of the hillfort, with ridge and furrow and past land divisions visible on aerial photographs and LiDAR data. Contained within the hillfort ramparts are the remains of a medieval ringwork enclosure and 13th century parish church. The ringwork occupies the north-eastern corner of the hillfort interior in a commanding position overlooking Cardiff. Oval in plan and comprising a substantial earthen bank and ditch, the enclosure measures c. 52m by 34m and has an entrance on the south-west side (orientated towards the church). The now ruinous church (unscheduled) lies close to the ringwork within an oval churchyard (scheduled) and consists of the masonry remains of a nave, south porch, north vestry, tower and chancel. (Scheduling Report)

Gatehouse Comments

The now ruined church of St Mary's became a parish church after the reformation but was originally a chapel of Llandaf. The hill fort could certainly have been used as a burgus defence and the presence of a large free standing chapel here suggests there was some sort of settlement in the hill fort and Coflein does record a possible DMV here. However it is arguably if such a community could actually defend the large circuit.

- 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 ReferenceST133749
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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

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  • Morgan, Gerald, 2008, Castles in Wales: A Handbook (Talybont: Y Lolfa Cyf.) p. 239 (listed)
  • Pettifer, Adrian, 2000, Welsh Castles, A Guide by Counties (Boydell Press) p. 111
  • Salter, Mike, 1991, The Castles of Gwent, Glamorgan and Gower (Malvern) p. 75 (slight)
  • < >RCAHMW, 1991, An Inventory of the Ancient Monuments in Glamorgan Vol. 3 Part 1a: The Early Castles (London: HMSO) < > CR4 p. 86-9
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 161
  • Davis, Paul R., 1983, Castles of Glamorgan (Alun Books) p. 47
  • Hague, D.B., 1971, in Pugh, T.B. (ed), Glamorgan County History Vol. 3 The Middle Ages (Cardiff) p. 438
  • Lewis, Samual, 1849, A Topographical Dictionary of Wales online copy (as Roman camp)


  • King, D.J.C. and Alcock, L., 1969, 'Ringworks in England and Wales' Château Gaillard Vol. 3 p. 90-127
  • 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
  • 1913, Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 68 p. 103


  • Time Team (Francis Pryor presenting archaeologist), 2013 January 13 (1st broadcast), 'A Capital Hill' Time Team TV Programme (Time Team, a Videotext/Picture House production for Channel 4) (on Iron Age hill fort) view online