Castell Meredydd

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

There are masonry footings remains

NameCastell Meredydd
Alternative NamesMachen; Maghay; Maghhay
Historic CountryMonmouthshire
Modern AuthorityNewport
1974 AuthorityGwent

There are scant remains of Castell Meredydd, a masonry castle traditionally built by Maeredydd Gethin, prince of Gwynllwg, before about 1201. It is possible that the castle went out of use after 1236 although it is mentioned through the earlier fourteenth century. The castle occupies a ledge on a south-facing hillside. It consisted of a great round tower and another large building, set on conjoined mounds on the south side of a roughly rectangular enclosure or court. The mounds, 4.0-7.0m high, were scarped from an outrcrop set above headlong slopes on the south and ditched towards the court. The great round tower on the eastern mound was about 10m in diameter with 2.0m thick walls. The rectalinear building on the western mound, possible a hall or second tower, would have been up to 18m by 10m. The court is about 56m east-west by 30-56m. It may originally have been walled about. It is now defined by banks and ditches on the east and west and by scarps terraced into rising ground on the north. (Coflein–John Wiles, RCAHMW, 3 August 2007)

In the early part of the 13th century this site was used as a retreat by Morgan ap Hywell after he had lost his main stronghold of Caerleon to the Normans. Morgan probably built the round tower keep, but the bailey and curtain wall appears to have been constructed by Gilbert Marshal, earl of Pembroke in 1236, when he captured the castle and held it for a short while. In 1248 the castle passed to Morgan's grandson Maredudd from whom the name is derived, and it was later held by the de Clares. The bailey is about 60m square. Although once protected by a wall and ditch it was poorly defended and is overlooked by higher ground to the north. The southern side is a cliff edge from which rises two tree-clad knobs of rock which bear the last traces of a round tower keep and a rectangular hall block, which were separated from each other and the bailey by ditches

The keep was a small specimen of its type, having a diameter of 8.6m over walls 2.5m thick. A latrine chute discharges down the cliff edge. (Salter, 1991)

The monument consists of the remains of a castle, dating to the medieval period. The castle remains occupy a dramatic position on top of two rocky outcrops on a steep slope overlooking the Rhymney valley. On the E outcrop are the remains of a circular keep around 10m in diameter, comprising two stretches of stone walling up to 2.2m high. The W outcrop is rectangular in plan, measuring 12m E/W by 7m, with a level summit. . To the W of the W outcrop is a wall which runs E/W and then turns N and becomes a stony bank around 1m high. At the N end of the bank are the remains of a rectangular building, beyond which the tony bank continues NE towards the garden of the modern cottages. The castle is thought to have been built by Maeredydd Gethin, Prince of Gwynllwg before 1201, and is the only Welsh castle in Gwent. (Scheduling Report)

Gatehouse Comments

The only native Welsh castle in Gwent.

- 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 ReferenceST225887
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Copyright D.Meurig All Rights ReservedView full Sized Image
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  • Davis, Paul, R., 2011, The Forgotten Castles of Wales (Almeley: Logaston Press) p. 146-48
  • Butler, L., 2009, 'The Castles of the Princes of Gwynedd' in Willams, D. and Kenyon, J. (eds), The Impact of the Edwardian Castles in Wales (Oxbow) p. 27-36
  • Morgan, Gerald, 2008, Castles in Wales: A Handbook (Talybont: Y Lolfa Cyf.) p. 242 (listed)
  • Davis, Paul R., 2007, Castles of the Welsh Princes (Y Lolfa) p. 98-100
  • Pettifer, Adrian, 2000, Welsh Castles, A Guide by Counties (Boydell Press) p. 125
  • Reid, Alan, 1998, Castles of Wales (John Jones Publishing) p. 53-4
  • Salter, Mike, 1991, The Castles of Gwent, Glamorgan and Gower (Malvern) p. 14
  • Davis, Paul R., 1988, Castles of the Welsh Princes (Swansea)
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 285
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 365


  • Avent, Richard, 1994, 'Castles of the Welsh Princes' Château Gaillard Vol. 16 p. 11-17
  • Dallimore, K.L., 1978-80, ‘An archaeological survey of the Machen Ridge, Monmouthshire’, Bulletin of the Board of Celtic Studies Vol. 28 p. 469-503 (see p. 483,486-8)
  • Hogg, A.H.A. and King, D.J.C., 1970, 'Castles in Wales and the Marches (Additions and corrections to lists published in 1963 and 1967)' Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 119 p. 119-124 (reject as early castle)
  • 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
  • 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
  • Renn, D.F., 1961, 'The round keeps of the Brecon region' Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 110 p. 143
  • 1927-8, Proceedings of the Monmouth and Caerleon Antiquarian Association p. 11-15 (rather poor history only)

Primary Sources

  • Brut y Tywysogion 1236 (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)
  • Lyte, H.C. Maxwell (ed), 1906, Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem, Edward II Vol. 5 p. 335 no. 538 (Gilbert de Clare 10 July 1314) online copy