Ancient Monuments

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Tretower Barn

A Scheduled Monument in Llanfihangel Cwmdu with Bwlch and Cathedine (Llanfihangel Cwm Du gyda Bwlch a Chathedin), Powys

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Latitude: 51.8834 / 51°53'0"N

Longitude: -3.1837 / 3°11'1"W

OS Eastings: 318623

OS Northings: 221201

OS Grid: SO186212

Mapcode National: GBR YY.RJY9

Mapcode Global: VH6C8.RXSK

Entry Name: Tretower Barn

Scheduled Date: 19 October 2018

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 1777

Cadw Legacy ID: BR146

Schedule Class: Agriculture and Subsistence

Category: Barn

Period: Medieval

County: Powys

Community: Llanfihangel Cwmdu with Bwlch and Cathedine (Llanfihangel Cwm Du gyda Bwlch a Chathedin)

Traditional County: Brecknockshire


The monument consists of a long, north-south oriented barn of local Old Red Sandstone rubble divided into three unequal and unconnected sections. The complex originated as a 15th century domestic range, one gable of which survives forming the cross wall between the original building and the southern section of the barn. This contains a first floor fireplace, corbelled chimney breast and blocked rectangular windows to either side, and retains areas of potentially early plaster on its northern (formerly internal) face.

The southern section is a 16th or early 17th century extension of two stories with re-used squared 15th century windows in its northern wall at both levels. The opposing full-height barn doors and three lights at ground floor level in the southern gable wall of this section are insertions of 18th or 19th century date and incorporate re-used quarter-round and chamfered window or door mouldings of mid to late 13th century date and almost certainly taken from Tretower Castle. The floor in this section of the barn comprises a central threshing floor of stone slabs between the doors and beaten earth elsewhere.

The original domestic building was altered and extended to the north in the later 17th century to form a byre and barn, divided by a low, later cross wall. This has left no traces of the primary structure other than its southern gable, which is only visible internally and the northerly of extent of the building is unknown, although there is high potential for the remains of foundations, floors and associated deposits to survive as buried archaeological features. The byre was entered through three now altered doorways in its eastern wall and lit by squared windows in two levels of the western wall. The floor in this section is very well preserved, a combination of a central stone slabbed walkway with pitching and earth to each side and stone-slabbed feed passages against the gable walls. A row of external sockets on the west wall indicate the position of a lost timber gallery or covered walkway providing sheltered access between the different sections of the barn.

The barn formerly extended a considerable distance to the north, as evidenced by a an estate map of 1587 and by a 25m ruined length of its western wall containing three short ventilation slits, one of which was later carefully blocked. Archaeological evaluation by Cadw in 2008 confirmed the survival of the footings of the eastern wall, which are indicated on the surface by a single kerb stone and a low scarp aligned with the upstanding east wall of the barn. The northern end of the structure must have lain beyond the present Cadw guardianship boundary in the garden of the neighbouring house. The remains of an in-filled 20th century brick sheep dip survive within the ruined portion of the barn.

The barn was reduced to its present extent at some point after the 17th century, when the partition dividing the northern barn from the central byre section was inserted, the long walls substantially rebuilt and the blank northern gable added. The present opposing full height double doors were inserted around this time, linked internally by a stone slab threshing floor. The floor to the north of this is pitched with slabbed feed passages against the northern gable. The floor to the south is of earth.

Geophysical survey in 1992 has tentatively identified further possible structural remains in the area of the car park and a watching brief by Cadw to the south of the barn revealed a cobbled surface of unknown extent, possibly part of an outer court associated with the barn complex, which originated as a domestic building dating from the late 15th century. The road to the west of the barn includes a strip of post-medieval pitching outside the roofed section forming an external walk way and the grass verge alongside the ruined section, which lay within the walled outer precinct of the Court.

The Court and Barn were taken into state guardianship in the 1930s and subjected to an extensive programme of restoration over the following decade. This saw the complete replacement of the roof, many of the internal timbers and most of the doors. Typically for Ministry of Works conservation of this time, some sections of walling were substantially rebuilt, notably below the wall plates in the southern section, and to a lesser degree to the north. The monument is of national importance as a fine example of a large post medieval barn in the local vernacular style with a complex sequence of construction. It forms one element of, and shares group value with, the outstanding manorial group of Tretower Court, Castle and the adjacent shrunken medieval settlement. It has potential to enhance our knowledge of the layout and development of the broader court complex and more generally medieval domestic architecture, settlement and agricultural practices. It retains significant archaeological potential, with a strong probability of the presence of associated archaeological features and deposits which are likely to contain information relating to chronology and building techniques, together with a strong probability of environmental evidence. The scheduled area comprises the remains described and an area around them within which related evidence may be expected to survive. It is an irregular quadrilateral of 0.28 ha measuring 90m N-S x 30m E-W, corresponding to the present guardianship boundaries.

Source: Cadw

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