The Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological
Historic Environment Record
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St. Illtyd's MottePrimary Reference Number (PRN) : 02098g
Trust : Glamorgan Gwent
Community : Llanhilleth
NGR : SO21730192
Site Type (preferred type first) : Medieval Motte
Legal Protection : scheduled ancient monument
Just to the west of the church stands a large, steep-sided, flat-topped mound. This is a well-preserved castle motte. This probably dates to the 11th or 12th century, though it may incorporate an earlier, prehistoric burial mound.
Just to the west of the church stands a large, steep-sided, flat-topped mound. This is a well-preserved castle motte. This probably dates to the 11th or 12th century, though it may incorporate an earlier, prehistoric burial mound (see above).
Originally the motte would have been surmounted by a defensive wooden tower and palisade and may have been surrounded by an enclosed outer bailey that would have contained a hall, stables and other associated out-buildings. It is possible that the bailey once extended as far as the site of the stone castle on the other side of the churchyard (Bailey 1957, 22). It is not known whether the motte was built by Norman invaders or by the native Welsh princes of Gwynllwg (the Welsh kingdom of which Llanhilleth formed a part) to defend their northern territories (King 1983, 285).
Archdeacon Coxe visited the site in 1799 and gives a useful description:
"On the north-western side of the church are the remains of a fortified post, consisting of a small tumulus and circular entrenchment, which communicated with each other; within the latter are the vestiges of subterraneous walls, faced with hewn stone, and not less than nine feet thick; at a little distance to the west is a higher mound or barrow."(Coxe 1801, 253)
In 1878, the motte was referred to as "Y Tump", "Twmp Siencyn Si?n" (Jenkin Jones' Tump) or "Twmp y Castell" (Castle Tump) (Bailey 1957, 21). (01)
Phillips notes that the â€˜St Illtyd Motteâ€™ is situated on private land and that key features include its small and oval shape, surrounding ditch (4-5m in width and 0.8m deep) with a berm to the south, grass and gorse cover, and the retaining wall which cuts the northeast side of the motte base. The height of the motte is noted to be 6.16m with a surface area of 269.801mÂ²; 36mÂ² of the motte is damaged by an access road and the slope gradient is 60%-79%. Site is thought to have no natural defences but it is indicated that it may have strategic purposes as a watch tower. Phillips interprets the site as an early motte/watch-tower, discrediting the antiquarian belief that it is a barrow and questioning its lack of a bailey (which is believed to be under the farm to the east; Phillips 2004).
Phillips, N Dr , 2004 , Thesis: Earthwork Castles of Gwent and Ergyng AD 1050 â€“ 1250
, Archwilio App Submission
Taylor, B , 2014 , Digital photograph (1); St Illtyd's Motte
01. Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council (2003), Blaenau Gwent Heritage Audit: Interim Report 2002-2003, Heritage section
02. Bailey, H. W. 1957. History of the Parish of Llanhilleth (Newport Ref. Library qM230 796.33.
03. Coxe, W. 1801. An Historical Tour in Monmouthshire, Vol. II (repr. 1995 Merton Priory Press).
04. King, D. J. C. 1983. Castellarium Anglicanum, Vol. I
E004063 : Earthwork Castles of Gwent and Ergyng AD 1050 â€“ 1250 (year : 2004)
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July 2, 2015, 4:50 pm
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