Ancient Monuments

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Tretower Castle

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

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Latitude: 51.8839 / 51°53'2"N

Longitude: -3.1856 / 3°11'8"W

OS Eastings: 318494

OS Northings: 221261

OS Grid: SO184212

Mapcode National: GBR YY.RJFR

Mapcode Global: VH6C8.QXS4

Entry Name: Tretower Castle

Scheduled Date:

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 1708

Cadw Legacy ID: BR014

Schedule Class: Defence

Category: Castle

Period: Medieval

County: Powys

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

Traditional County: Brecknockshire


This monument comprises the remains of a medieval castle dating to the 11th century. Situated on the northern bank of a small tributary of the river Rhiangoll, the prominence of the castle led to the early village name becoming known as ‘Tretower – the place of the tower’.

The castle was established by the Picard family who built an earth and timber castle to help strengthen their claim and authority on the area. At its heart was a motte or mound, surrounded by a ditch and presumably crowned by a wooden palisade. To one side stood a bailey, a defended enclosure housing a variety of domestic and agricultural buildings. From this stronghold the Picard family exercised local power and influence for the next two centuries.

The outer walls of the late 12th century shell keep stand to a considerable height on the southern and western sides. The windows were blocked when the keep was gutted to make way for the circular tower about 1235-50. There was a gatehouse on the south-east side of the keep, retained in the later arrangements, but only its low footings survive.

A vaulted passage leads to the castle kitchen with its fireplace in the outer wall. Apart from this, the internal layout of the 12th century castle is difficult to envisage. An integrated two-storey hall and chamber block stood in the angle where the outer walls still stand at their highest point. The main rooms were at first floor level, as witnessed by the blocked doors and windows, and by the blocked fireplace in the west wall of the chamber. There was a spiral staircase in the angle turret at the south-west corner.

The 12th century arrangements were all sacrificed to make way for Roger Picard’s great round tower, although the outer masonry of the keep was retained to serve as a protective curtain wall. The massive four-storey tower has a battered or sloping base, above which the walls are about 2.7m thick. There is structural evidence to suggest that the top of the tower carried a permanent wooden fighting gallery, or hourd. The entrance to the tower was by way of a wooden stair to a doorway at first-floor level. Inside, above the poorly lit basement, each of the principal floors has a large fireplace, and offered comfortable private accommodation for Roger and his wife Matilda. From the second-floor level, a doorway led out to a bridge which linked the tower with the surrounding curtain wall. The topmost floor of the tower has windows but no fireplace.

The monument is of national importance for its potential to enhance our knowledge of medieval social, domestic and political life and warfare. The scheduled area comprises the remains described and an area around them within which related evidence may be expected to survive.

Source: Cadw

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