Ancient Monuments

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Caerleon Castle Mound

A Scheduled Monument in Caerleon (Caerllion), Newport (Casnewydd)

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Latitude: 51.6098 / 51°36'35"N

Longitude: -2.9508 / 2°57'2"W

OS Eastings: 334257

OS Northings: 190535

OS Grid: ST342905

Mapcode National: GBR J7.9Y6L

Mapcode Global: VH7B6.SSXS

Entry Name: Caerleon Castle Mound

Scheduled Date:

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 538

Cadw Legacy ID: MM014

Schedule Class: Defence

Category: Motte

Period: Medieval

County: Newport (Casnewydd)

Community: Caerleon (Caerllion)

Built-Up Area: Caerleon

Traditional County: Monmouthshire


The monument comprises the remains of a motte and bailey castle, a military stronghold built during the medieval period over the south-eastern corner of the Roman legionary fortress of Isca Silurium. The Castle of Caerleon was in existence before 1086, when the Domesday Survey refers to land in the ‘castley of Caerleon’, and was probably founded during the Norman advance from Chepstow led by William Fitz Osborne and his son between 1067 and 1075. It is a motte and bailey of typical Norman construction, occupying the area between the river crossing and the SE defences of the Roman fortress. The enormous motte, known locally as ‘The Mynde’, ringing some 10m above its former bailey and considerably more above the external fall of ground to the north and east. It partly overlies the south-eastern wall of the fort (identified during the excavation of a tunnel into the motte in 1878), with the bailey extending SW towards the Roman porta praetorian (SE gate). The entrance to the bailey was on the S side, at the point where the medieval bridge crossing the river Usk met the bailey defences, and it marked by the remains of one of the 13th century angle towers located immediately adjacent to the Hanbury Arms (MM037). Excavations in 1848 revealed that the bailey overlies the site of a Roman extra-mural bathhouse. The motte was surmounted by a massive stone structure, probably a shell keep, which was recorded by several early antiquaries. This collapsed in the 18th century and all the stone was removed from the site; at the same time a spiral path was created to give access to the lowered summit of the mound. The keep was originally accessed by a flight of stairs up the side of the motte, which was guarded at the base by a twin towered gatehouse, part of which is still visible but altered and incorporated into a garden feature.

In the early 12th century the castle was held by Robert de Chandos but later passed to the Welsh lord of Caerleon Iorwerth ap Owain, He continued to hold it, except for an interruption in 1171-3, when it was seized by Henry II, until his death. In 1217 William Marshal the Elder seized it from Iorwerth’s grandson, Morgan ap Howel, in the crisis following the death of King John. Morgan sued Marshal in the King’s Court for the return of his castle and while the court adjudged that he was the rightful owner he stood little chance of recovering his property from the powerful Marshal's. His fight to regain the castle continued into the 1230s, however, Morgan and his family never recovered Caerleon. In 1245, following the death of William Marshal’s youngest son the Marshal lands were divided and Caerleon passed to the de Clare's. Subsequently the castle passed, through Richard Duke of York, to Edward IV’s daughter Elizabeth, wife of Henry VII, after which it was granted to William Herbert of Raglan. The Herbert's still held it in 1622 when it was described ‘decayed and utterly ruinated’.

The monument is of national importance for its potential to enhance our knowledge of medieval military and domestic architecture. It is one of the earliest and largest mottes in Wales and the Marches and forms an key feature within the wider historic landscape and present town of Caerleon. It may be expected to contain archaeological information relating to chronology, building techniques and functional detail of its lost masonry superstructure and potentially uniquely, the substantial upstanding ruin of the Roman bath house over which it is believed to have been built. It is a particularly large example of a motte converted into a later garden feature.

The scheduled area comprises the remains described and areas around them within which related evidence may be expected to survive.

Source: Cadw

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