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Caerau Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Kayre; Cayre

In the community of Caerau.
In the historic county of Glamorgan.
Modern authority of Cardiff.
Preserved county of South Glamorgan.

OS Map Grid Reference: ST13377498
Latitude 51.46811° Longitude -3.24612°

Caerau Castle has been described as a certain Timber Castle, and also as a probable Urban Defence.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


The undocumented castle-ringwork at Caerau, on high ground at 3.75km W. of Cardiff, and 1,4km N.W. of Brynwell, is of interest for three aspects of its siting: it lies within the N.W. angle of a large multivallate hill-fort from which it derives its name ‘forts’ in Welsh; the abandoned and ruinous church of St Mary’s abuts its defences on the S.W.; and, finally, it lies in the south-western part of the medieval episco pal manor of Llandaf. Its elevated situation, at 230ft above O.D. within a hill-fort, may be compared with that of Cil Ifor ringwork and Ruperra motte. The siting of early castles beside a church is not uncommon, but here, St Mary’s, though it became a parish church after the Reformation, was originally a chapel of Llandaf.
The ringwork is well-preserved, its strong and noticeably flat-topped bank defining an oval area 52m by 34m, with a gap for the entrance to the S.W., in which direction the site is further protected towards the level interior of the fort by a strong penannular ditch. The bank on the N. side of the entrance is builthigher than the rest, and has a very broad and level top. To the N.E. the bank has been raised over the eroded inner line of the fort. There are no traces of a bailey or of buildings within the ring, although one sherd of 12th-century date is reported.
There is no historical record of the castle, and in the absence of any evidence suggesting an early lay manor here, it seems probable that this was an episco pal castle, like that at Bishopston Old Castle. The Bishop of Llandaf was a lord marcher, in right of his manor of Llandaf, the temporalities of which, in 1291, were worth almost twice the spiritualities of the entire diocese. By the close of the Middle Ages Caerau (Kayre or Cayre) was held by the Malefants of the bishop, as of his manor of Llandaf. (RCAHMW 1991)

An oval enclosure, c.40m NW-SE by 22m, defined by a rampart and ditch, resting on the NE angle of Caerau ramparts, having an entrance facing SW towards St Mary's church. Thought to be an unrecorded castle belonging to the Bishops of Llandaff. (Coflein)This monument comprises the remains of a hillfort dating from the Iron Age (c. 800 BC – AD 74). It is located at the western end of a ridge, approximately 70-80m above OD. The hillfort survives as multivallate earthworks comprising a large triple-ditched enclosure of triangular shape, enclosing c. 88,400 m2. Three bank and ditch ramparts enclose the northern and western sides whilst on the east a single large bank and ditch with two in-turned entrances are located. There is evidence for past cultivation within the interior of the hillfort, with ridge and furrow and past land divisions visible on aerial photographs and LiDAR data. Contained within the hillfort ramparts are the remains of a medieval ringwork enclosure and 13th century parish church. The ringwork occupies the north-eastern corner of the hillfort interior in a commanding position overlooking Cardiff. Oval in plan and comprising a substantial earthen bank and ditch, the enclosure measures c. 52m by 34m and has an entrance on the south-west side (orientated towards the church). The now ruinous church (unscheduled) lies close to the ringwork within an oval churchyard (scheduled) and consists of the masonry remains of a nave, south porch, north vestry, tower and chancel. (Scheduling Report)

The now ruined church of St Mary's became a parish church after the reformation but was originally a chapel of Llandaf. The hill fort could certainly have been used as a burgus defence and the presence of a large free standing chapel here suggests there was some sort of settlement in the hill fort and Coflein does record a possible DMV here. However it is arguably if such a community could actually defend the large circuit.
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This record last updated 06/07/2016 17:13:36