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Pen y Castell, Garreg Olau

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Caer Oleu; Careg Oleu Rhiw Dafnau Maenan

In the community of Llanddoged and Maenan.
In the historic county of Caernarfonshire.
Modern authority of Conwy.
Preserved county of Gwynedd.

OS Map Grid Reference: SH79386660
Latitude 53.18257° Longitude -3.80753°

Pen y Castell, Garreg Olau has been described as a probable Timber Castle, and also as a probable Masonry Castle.

There are masonry footings remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


On a narrow ridge with precipitous sides. Access from the N is prevented by a ditch about 5' deep cut across the ridge. S of this is a D-shaped enclosure with a strong wall dry built in rubble masonry and still standing 3' high in places. There is no entrance. The enclosure contains a small ditch, possibly the foundation trench of a round wooden tower. S of this enclosure the edges of the ridge are reinforced with stone walling, generally poorly preserved except on the NW. The enclosed area is divided into 3 sections by natural crags. The structure may possibly be the result of native adaptation of the "motte and bailey" layout to an unusual site. Much ruined. (Gwynedd Archaeological Trust HER ref. RCAHMW)

Pen y Castell compares in some measure with two Iron Age forts, Caer Seion on Conway Mountain and Garm Bodvan. Both feature a small strong inner bank set at one end, or side, of a large defended area. (Gwynedd Archaeological Trust HER ref. OS record)

This is not a Norman castle but local welsh lords do seem to have been more likely to reuse Iron Age site which had been built by their direct ancestors and which often maintained some cultural importance. Whether or not this happened here is likely only to be answered by extensive destructive archaeology.
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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The information on this web page may be derived from information compiled by and/or copyright of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historic Monuments of Wales, the four welsh archaeological trusts and other individuals and organisations. It may also contain Designated Historic Asset Descriptive Information from The Welsh Historic Environment Service (Cadw), licensed under the Open Government Licence. All the sources given should be consulted to identify the original copyright holder and permission obtained from them before use of the information on this site for commercial purposes.
The author and compiler of Gatehouse does not receive any income from the site and funds it himself. The information within this site is provided freely for educational purposes only.
The bibliography owes much to various bibliographies produced by John Kenyon for the Council for British Archaeology, the Castle Studies Group and others.
Suggestions for finding online and/or hard copies of bibliographical sources can be seen at this link.
Minor archaeological investigations, such as watching brief reports, and some other 'grey' literature is most likely to be held by H.E.R.s but is often poorly referenced and is unlikely to be recorded here, or elsewhere, but some suggestions can be found here.
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This record last updated 02/07/2016 09:37:47