Caerleon Castle

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

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameCaerleon Castle
Alternative NamesCaerllion; Carlion
Historic CountryMonmouthshire
Modern AuthorityNewport
1974 AuthorityGwent

Caerleon saw centuries of Christian and Roman settlement and fortification before Norman invaders used this site for the steep motte of their castle in 1085. The motte had a tower, a two-towered barbican at the bottom, and the strong bailey eventually had at least a further two towers. The one tower that survives was probably erected in the middle of the 13th century. The castle was attacked and captured by the Welsh in 1217, and resisted another attack by the Welsh in 1231. (Reid)

Motte, 65m in diameter and 30m high, having a summit diameter of 25m. A stone structure of some form occupied the summit of the motte, the foundations of which were being robbed out in 1799. Access was via a bridge and twin-towered gate at the foot of the mound. The motte was landscaped in 1847. A rounded, ruined tower, adjacent to the Hanbury Arms, is thought to mark the S extent of the castle bailey, indicating an enclosure c.150m by 50m. (Coflein)

Attached to the south west corner of The Hanbury Arms.

The remains of a medieval tower, possibly built c1219, by the historic quay of Caerleon, and near to the site of the old bridge. It could well be a chain tower for controlling access to the upper river, but, if so, there is no longer any relic or record of its necessary twin on the left bank. It might also be the one surviving tower of the outer bailey of Caerleon Castle. The tower was considered to be Roman in 1758 and, at that time, was depicted with a pronounced lean, but this is no longer in evidence. It was in use as a lock-up at this time while The Hanbury Arms housed the Magistrate's Court.

This shows the remains of the basement vault and some brick repairs. It is otherwise featureless.

Circular tower of roughly squared sandstone rubble with a battered base. Three arrow slits are framed in neater squared limestone blocks. There is also a larger rectangular opening, now headless, of unknown purpose, but this does face the river

The tower is about 4.5m in height. The tower is truncated, though probably not by much, and roofless. It adjoins the south west corner of The Hanbury Arms and is attached to it. (Listed Building Report)

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 ReferenceST342905
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Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved

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  • Morgan, Gerald, 2008, Castles in Wales: A Handbook (Talybont: Y Lolfa Cyf.) p. 242 (listed)
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  • Courtney, P., 2008, 'The Marcher Lordships' in R. Griffiths, T. Hopkins and R. Howell (eds), The Gwent County History (Cardiff: University of Wales Press) Vol. 2 The Age of the Marcher Lords, c. 1070-1536 p. 49-51 (tenurial history)
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  • King, D.J.Cathcart, 1972, 'The Field Archaeology of Mottes' Chateau Gaillard Vol. 5 p. 101-12 online copy
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  • Knight, J.K.., 1963, 'The Keep of Caerleon Castle' Monmouthshire Antiquarian Vol. 1 p. 70-2 (numbered as 23-4 -slight)
  • Renn, D.F., 1961, 'The round keeps of the Brecon region' Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 110 p. 142
  • 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)
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  • Woollett, 1875, The Builder Vol. 33 p. 275-6

Primary Sources

  • 162r Great Domesday Book online copy
  • Giraldus Cambrensis, c.1188, Journey Through Wales view online transcription
  • Rickard, John, 2002, The Castle Community. The Personnel of English and Welsh Castles, 1272-1422 (Boydell Press) (lists sources for 1272-1422) p. 308-9
  • Brut y Tywysogion 1158, 1171, 1173, 1175, 1217 (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 and Owen, Aneurin (ed), 1864, 'Brut y Tywysogion' Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 19 supplement p. 134-5 [online copy >] )
  • William ab Ithel (ed), 1860, Brut y Tywysogion Jesus MS 111 (Red Book of Hergest) 1171, 1173, 1217 online copy [Scan of original manuscript >]
  • Calendar of Patent Rolls frequent references 1222-46 online copy
  • 'Annales de Margam' in Luard, H.R (ed), 1857, Annales Monastici (Rolls Series 36) Vol. 1 p. 38-9 online copy


  • Newport City Council, June 2009, Register Of Buildings At Risk p. 13, 19, 30 online copy
  • Phillips, Neil, 2005, Earthwork Castles of Gwent and Ergyng AD 1050-1250 (PhD Thesis University of Sheffield) Download