Ancient Monuments

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Morlais Castle

A Scheduled Monument in Vaynor (Y Faenor), Merthyr Tydfil (Merthyr Tudful)

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Latitude: 51.7768 / 51°46'36"N

Longitude: -3.379 / 3°22'44"W

OS Eastings: 304958

OS Northings: 209585

OS Grid: SO049095

Mapcode National: GBR YP.ZBGL

Mapcode Global: VH6CR.DL1Q

Entry Name: Morlais Castle

Scheduled Date:

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 636

Cadw Legacy ID: GM028

Schedule Class: Defence

Category: Castle

Period: Medieval

County: Merthyr Tydfil (Merthyr Tudful)

Community: Vaynor (Y Faenor)

Traditional County: Glamorgan


The monument comprises the remains of a castle, dating to the medieval period. It is situated at the northern border of the lands of Senghennydd Uwch Caeach on a high limestone ridge. When begun in 1288, this land had been newly annexed by the lord of Glamorgan, Gilbert de Clare and the castle was intended to control this territory, a position viewed as provocative by the neighbouring lord of Brecon, Humphrey de Bohun. The result in 1290 was warfare between the two brought under control by their imprisonment in the Tower of London by Edward 1. In 1294 the castle was captured during a Welsh rebellion by Madog ap Llywelyn and it may have been abandoned shortly afterwards. The remains are now almost completely collapsed but represent a curtain walled enclosure measuring about 130m north-south by 60m wide outside of which is a rock-cut ditch and countescarp bank. Towers were situated around the wall at the angles; one on the west side, three on the east and one each at the north and south ends. The latter two were about 20m diameter and would have served to dominate the skyline. The basement of the south tower is intact and has a central pillar with twelve vaulting ribs that supported the floor above now capped in concrete. The castle is subdivided into inner and outer wards with the inner ward at the north end showing traces of internal buildings that might have included a hall and chapel while the outer ward has further indications of buildings and includes a great rock-cut water cistern. Outside of the castle ditch on the south side is a further court protected by earthworks alone.

The monument is of national importance for its potential to enhance our knowledge of medieval defensive and domestic practices and has strong historical associations. The monument is well-preserved and an important relic of the medieval landscape. It retains significant archaeological potential, with a strong probability of the presence of both structural evidence and intact associated deposits.

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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