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Cwm Clais, Castell Bolan

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Baglan; Cwm Glais

In the community of Cwmavon.
In the historic county of Glamorgan.
Modern authority of Neath Port Talbot.
Preserved county of West Glamorgan.

OS Map Grid Reference: SS76789202
Latitude 51.61357° Longitude -3.78084°

Cwm Clais, Castell Bolan has been described as a certain Timber Castle, and also as a probable Masonry Castle.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


A ditched mound, 26-28m in diameter, apparently consisting of a lower banked mound, c.3.0m high with a lesser mound, c.3.0m high placed eccentically upon it. The ditch appears to be counterscarped on the SE. (Coflein)

Castell Bolan is a castle mound at 124m above O.D., occupying the top of a spur, on the N. flank of Mynydd Dinas. A ditch surrounds the mound (AM7) but is not present on the eastern side (OS). It is possible that the castle, with Plas Baglan on the north, and the Iron Age Hillfort of Pen-y-castle to the south, are the three castle recorded in this vicinity by Edwards Lhuyd as "Castel y Wiryones", "y Castell" and "Ben y Castell". Castell Bolan is spread over the full width of the N.W extremity of the spur, with steep natural falls to the W., N.W. and N.E sides. Its base is oval and regular, 26m by 28m, but its upper part is different and rises towards the S.E. to become a D-shaped summit. There it measures 6m by 7m and has a central depression 1m deep. At a lower level on the North side, on the half of the slope, is a curving bank with regular appearance. It contains a confined lunate shelf. This site may certainly be a castle of the 12-century Welsh lords of Afan, or one of their followers. Although, if is a Welsh castle, it clearly imitates the Norman motte. There is no certain historical record of the site, though it has been suggested that it might have been belonged to Morgan Gam and that there Herbert Fitzmatthew was slain by the Welsh in 1245 (RCAHM 1991, 143-145). (Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust HER)

The monument comprises the remains of a motte and ditch, dating to the medieval period (c. 1066 -1540 AD). A motte is a large conical or pyramidal mound of soil and/or stone, usually surrounded by either a wet or dry ditch, and surmounted by a tower constructed of timber or stone. Cwm-clais occupies a commanding position at the end of a spur above the Nant Cwm-Clais valley. The motte measures approximately 4.5-5m high and 15m in diameter at the top. Surrounding the motte is a shallow ditch which is not very pronounced on the north-east and east sides. (Scheduling Report)

It is possible that some features may be buried walls. The sites was said to have been adapted for target practice in the C19 and existing features may also represent this.
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

Data >
Coflein   County HER   Scheduling        
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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This record last updated 06/07/2016 17:17:52