Y Gaer, Manor Pound, Maenclochog

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

There are cropmark/slight earthwork remains

NameY Gaer, Manor Pound, Maenclochog
Alternative Names
Historic CountryPembrokeshire
Modern AuthorityPembrokeshire
1974 AuthorityDyfed
CommunityMaenclochog

No remains of motte and bailey destroyed by Llywelyn ap Gruffydd. Tradition of having stone defenses. (King)

This site is a small green field on which is a striking natural outcrop of rock, almost circular in form, and having a flattened top from 10 to 12 feet above the level. It shows no signs of human workmanship. No evidences appear that a building has ever stood upon it. The two fields directly south are known as Pare y gaer ucha and issa (Tithe Schedule, Nos. 407-8), and the field where the outcrop occurs is known as Manor Pound in the Tithe Schedule, No. 40. NOTE.—According to Fenton (Tour, p. 349), " this village (Maenclochog) was formerly defended by a castle, of whose siege and demolition in general terms we read in the Welsh Chronicle; but from the very trifling remains it appears to have been small, a mere outpost or exploratory fort, either raised by the lord of Cemaes, on the limits of his newly-acquired territory, or by the first grantee of the mesne lordship on the site of an old British earthwork. It is remarked that there is a greater number of fairs there than in any other part of the county." The latter circumstance is due to the central position of the village in relation to the greater part of the county. (RCAHMW, 1925)

A two-week archaeological excavation was undertaken at Maenclochog ... aimed to discover evidence of the 'castle site' long believed by local people to be located on the present day site of the village car park and amenity centre. The wall of a manorial pound, the remains of a castle wall, a defensive bank and ditch, and evidence of a pre-Norman settlement were all revealed. The excavation has shown that before the castle was built, there was an early medieval defended settlement on the site which was surrounded by a defensive bank and ditch

(Schlee, 2008)

The reputed site of Maenclochog Castle comprises a small flat-topped rock outcrop that rises on the southern edge of the Pound, a rather irregular curvilinear walled enclosure of about 0.15ha. The outcrop in its present form is sometimes thought to have been shaped into a castle mount or motte. It is oval or subrectangular in plan, about 19m across at the base and 3.2-4.0m high, with a level summit 13.3-14m across. The Pound is a ruinous drystone enclosure roughly 47-51m across. It is probably eighteenth century and was the site of livestock markets. It has been identified both as a castle enclosure or bailey, associated with the mound and as a later Prehistoric settlement enclosure. Excavations in September 2007 examined a section of the Pound perimeter and a small area of the interior. It was found that the Pound wall rested above the foundations of a massive 2.2m wide stone wall. Beyond this was a large defensive ditch with the remains of a clay rampart between the two. Medieval pottery was recovered. In the interior parts of two roundhouses were encountered. It is probable that the Pound enclosure started as a settlement enclosure. The roundhouses are characteristic of settlement in the region from the later Prehistoric and through the Roman period. This was adapted as a castle, probably in the twelfth-thirteenth century. The mount would have been crowned by a great tower of timber or stone and there would have been a court or mansion in the bailey. This may have been enclosed by an earthwork and timber rampart before the great wall was built. (Coflein)

Gatehouse Comments

Although said to have no remains a mound is shown on the OS map and seems to appear on the modern air photo with an enclosure (used as a car park) to the north. Has a natural rock outcrop been used, virtually unaltered, as a symbolic motte for the castle, the bailey of which contained the important castle buildings (c.f. Pilsbury Castle, Derbyshire). The original bank and ditch may have been early medieval and the site is likely to have been 'the fortified stronghold of a Welsh Lord at the heart of a commote within the Cantref of Cemais' (Schlee) The Norman masonry curtain wall was demolished before 1440.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

Not Listed

The National Monument Record (Coflein) number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSN083272
Latitude51.9104690551758
Longitude-4.78748989105225
Eastings208370
Northings227220
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved

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Books

  • Schlee, Duncan, 2008, The Maenclochog Community Excavation September 2007 Discovering the origins of Maenclochog (Dyfed Archaeological Trust, 2008/27) online copy [online copy > http://www.cambria.org.uk/maenclochogappendix.pdf]
  • Hull, Lise, 2005, Castles and Bishops Palaces of Pembrokeshire (Logaston Press) p. 131
  • Davis, Paul, 2000, A Company of Forts. A Guide to the Medieval Castles of West Wales (Gomer Press) p. 37
  • Salter, Mike, 1996, The Castles of South West Wales (Malvern) p. 63
  • Miles, Dillwyn, 1979 (Revised 1988), Castles of Pembrokeshire (Pembrokeshire Coast National Park) p. 5-7
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 399
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 238
  • RCAHMW, 1925, An inventory of the Ancient Monuments of Pembrokeshire (HMSO) p. 207 no. 636 online copy
  • Fenton, R., 1811, A historical tour through Pembrokeshire (Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme & co.) p. 349 online copy

Journals

  • 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
  • King, D.J.C., 1962, 'The Castles of Pembrokeshire' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 119 p. 313-6 online copy

Primary Sources

  • Jones, T., 1952, Brut y Tywysogion (Peniarth MS 20 version) (University of Wales, History and Law series 11) 1215, 1257
  • Rickard, John, 2002, The Castle Community. The Personnel of English and Welsh Castles, 1272-1422 (Boydell Press) p. 392 (cites Calendar of Inquistions Post Mortem Vol. 14 no. 279)

Other

  • Hall, J., and Sambrook, P., 2006, Maenclochog Castel Survey (Trysor)