Cowbridge Town Walls

Has been described as a Certain Urban Defence

There are major building remains

NameCowbridge Town Walls
Alternative NamesY Bont-faen
Historic CountryGlamorgan
Modern AuthorityVale of Glamorgan
1974 AuthoritySouth Glamorgan
CommunityCowbridge With Llanblethian

Remains of a stone curtain, describing a pentagonal figure about the central part of the borough of Cowbridge, established c.1254. There are extensive remains of the S part of the circuit, including the South Gate and two angle towers. The circuit is thought to have been recorded in the Early C14. (Coflein)

On E side of The Butts, from rear of Mason's Arms, to bastion at SW angle, thence along N side of Town Mill Road.

Earl Gilbert de Clare, Lord of Glamorgan, is thought to have directed in 1266 the building of protective walls round the boroughs of Cowbridge, Neath and Cardiff. The oldest parts of the present walls in Cowbridge probably date from early C14, and face The Butts; it is not certain how far the walls facing Town Mill Road are original. Rose Cottage and adjoining garden walls have almost certainly been built on the line of the walls, and probably incorporate the Town Walls in their own walling or foundations.

Stone rubble, about 3.5 metres high on average, formerly apparently rising to about 7.6 metres and with an internal wall walk. The walls in the Butts are castellated and have a bastion at their SW angle, circular in plan, with polygonal upper storey and was probably used as a summer-house in the post-medieval period. Doorway through to gardens, to S of Mason's Arms; facing gardens, inner retaining wall to walkway which is turfed. To E of bastion, walls pierced by 2 doorways, a round-headed one to W, and to E, doorway with Tudor head, and to N, facing gardens, stone rubble gate piers with moulded copings. The walls extend to W, as garden walls on footing of medieval walls. (Listed Building Report)

The town walls were apparently 7.7m high, having a batter outside and a walk inside the battlements 4.3m wide. (Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust HER)

Cowbridge is a quarter of a mile above Lanlithan

From the mouth of Thawan to Cowbridge a longe by the ripe self, and more by west from the ripe is very good corne and gresse. As much of Cowbridge as is enclosid with the waull stondith on the est ripe and the bridge of ston there. The great suburbe of Coubridge is cis pontem. The waulle of Cowbridge is a 3. quarters of a mile aboute. There be 3. gates in the waulle, the est, the west and Porte Meline a by south. There is a chirch in the town. But the saying is, that Lanlithan is the hed paroch chirch to Cowbridge. The town self of Cowbridge standith in a valle. (Leland)

Gatehouse Comments

There is, apparently, no primary documentation regarding the town walls although it is usually suggested they date from the late C13. The town, which was one of the largest in medieval Wales, was an important commercial centre.

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

This is a Grade 2* 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 ReferenceSS993746
Latitude51.4611587524414
Longitude-3.45047998428345
Eastings299390
Northings174690
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Books

  • Salter, Mike, 2013, Medieval Walled Towns (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 169
  • Creighton, O.H. and Higham, R.A., 2005, Medieval Town Walls (Stroud: Tempus) p. 27, 74, 75, 170, 271
  • Pettifer, Adrian, 2000, Welsh Castles, A Guide by Counties (Boydell Press) p. 94
  • Salter, Mike, 1991, The Castles of Gwent, Glamorgan and Gower (Malvern) p. 49
  • RCAHMW, 1988, An Inventory of the Ancient Monuments in Glamorgan Vol. 4 Part 2 Farmhouses and Cottages p. 507-
  • Bond, C.J., 1987, 'Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Defences' in Schofield, J. and Leech, R. (eds), Urban Archaeology in Britain (CBA Research Report 61) p. 92-116 online copy (plan)
  • Soulsby, Ian, 1983, The Towns of Medieval Wales (Phillimore; Chichester) p. 115-7 (plan)
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 174
  • Parkhouse, J., 1982, ‘Excavations in Cowbridge’ in Annual Report 1981–82 (Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust) p. 7–21
  • Robinson, D.M., 1980, Cowbridge: the Archaeology and Topography of a Small Market Town in the Vale of Glamorgan (Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust)
  • Davidson A., 1979, 'Bear Hotel, Cowbridge: some evidence for the medieval town defences and Romano-British occupation' in Annual Report 1977-78 (Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust) p. 27 -8
  • Barley, M.W., 1975, 'Town Defences in England and Wales after 1066' in Barley (ed) The plans and topography of medieval towns in England and Wales (CBA Research Report 14) p. 57-71 online copy
  • Turner, H.L., 1971, Town Defences in England and Wales (London) p. 213
  • Hague, D.B., 1971, in Pugh, T.B. (ed), Glamorgan County History Vol. 3 The Middle Ages (Cardiff) p. 439
  • Hopkin-James, L.J., 1922, Old Cowbridge (Cardiff) p. 69-75 online copy
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (Methuen and Co) p. 246
  • Lewis, Samual, 1849, A Topographical Dictionary of Wales online copy

Antiquarian

  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1906, Leland's Itinerary in Wales  (Bell and Sons; London) p. 32 online copy

Journals

  • Robic, J.Y., 2011, 'Cowbridge, town walls, south-west tower' Archaeology in Wales Vol. 50 p. 11-12
  • Creighton, Oliver, 2006, ''Castles of Communities': Medieval Town Defences in England; Wales and Gascony' Château Gaillard Vol. 22 p. 75-86
  • Spurgeon, C.J., 2001, 'The Medieval Town Defences of Glamorgan' Studia Celtica Vol. 35 p. 161-212 esp p. 177-187
  • 1999, 'The Town Walls, Cowbridge' Marches Archaeology
  • Youngs, S.M., Clark, J. and Barry, T.B., 1983, ‘Medieval Britain and Ireland in 1982’, Medieval Archaeology Vol. 27 p. 227 download copy
  • Parkhouse, J., 1982, 'Archaeological notes: Cowbridge' Morgannwg Vol. 26 p. 76-9 online copy
  • Youngs, S.M. and Clark, J., 1982, ‘Medieval Britain in 1981’, Medieval Archaeology Vol. 26 p. 224
  • Parkhouse, J., 1982, ‘Cowbridge’, Archaeology in Wales Vol. 22 p. 35
  • Parkhouse, J., 1981, ‘Cowbridge’, Archaeology in Wales Vol. 21 p. 62-4
  • Davidson, A., 1979, 'Bear Hotel, Cowbridge' Archaeology in Wales Vol. 19 p. 40
  • Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust, 1979, 'Archaeological notes: Bear Hotel, Cowbridge' Morgannwg Vol. 23 p. 90 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