The comprehensive gazetteer and bibliography of the medieval castles, fortifications and palaces of England, Wales, the Islands.
The listings
Other Info
Print Page 
Next Record 
Previous Record 
Back to list 

Dinas Powys Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Dinas Powis; Dinaunt Poys

In the community of Dinas Powys.
In the historic county of Glamorgan.
Modern authority of Vale of Glamorgan.
Preserved county of South Glamorgan.

OS Map Grid Reference: ST15277164
Latitude 51.43787° Longitude -3.22074°

Dinas Powys Castle has been described as a certain Masonry Castle.

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.
This is a Grade 2 listed building protected by law*.


Dinas Powys Castle is a ruinous medieval fortress crowning a small and isolated steep-sided hill. It was the centre for a wealthy lordship. The castle is first recorded in about 1200 and was 'al in ruine' by the early sixteenth century. Thirteenth to fifteenth century coins have been found at the site. The castle consists of a near rectangular walled court about 68m north-west to south-east by 32m. The wall is 2.0m wide and in places survives to its battlements. There was a wide arched entrance facing the main approach from the south-east and a narrower postern with a pointed arch in the north-east wall. Masonry and timber buildings, including a great lordly hall, once lined the walls. At the north-west end there are slight remains of a great rectangular tower, some 18m by 13m, attached to the outside of the enclosure wall. A small counterscarped outwork, apparently earlier than the enclosure, lies beyond the tower. It is thought that the tower is earlier than the enclosure and it was probably built in the twelfth century. The enclosure may be late twelfth century, although the form of the postern hints at a thirteenth century date. (Coflein–ref. RCAHMW, 1991)

On a wooded spur in Castle Wood, immediately above the C20 development of Lettons Way and reached by footpath from there.
Masonry castle which replaced the ring work on the hill top to the NW and was the fortified headquarters of the Somery family in the C12. The castle continued in use throughout the C13 and there is evidence of some alterations and additions.
The remains of the castle stand at the NW end of a long narrow ridge which runs NW-SE. The ridge is steep sided on all sides except the SE and is covered in trees and scrub. The remains consist of an enclosure 65m x 53m surrounded by curtain walling, and the stump of a tower. The curtain wall encloses a roughly rectangular area on top of the ridge. The interior is cleared and is 1.5m thick, is roughly coursed. Only in the SE corner are any of the window and door dressings left. (Listed Building Report)

This multi-purpose site lies at the eastern end of the Vale of Glamorgan, one end of the hill having been fortified in the early Christian period by a bank and ditch dating from the 5th to the 7th century. In the Norman period a new bank and ditch were added and the scarp of the new bank was revetted in stone. Whether in wood or stone, the purpose of a revetment was to prevent a bank or mound of earth from collapsing, either into the ditch or the interior enclosure. A double row of postholes at Dinas Powys indicated that the bank was surmounted by a palisade and fighting platform, and there may have been a timber tower at this point; a similar feature was revealed at Penmaen. The entrance at Dinas Powys was on the north-west side, with a timber gate at the end of the passage. This phase has been dated to the 11th century, but there is a question as to who was responsible for building the defences. We do not know whether it was a Norman or a Welshman who refortified the site. A little later the site was strengthened by the addition of banks and ditches, now forming a formidable stronghold. Although this phase cannot be dated precisely, it may have been built by the Normans as part of their general advance into south Wales in the early 12th century. (Kenyon, 1990)

The monument comprises the remains of a medieval castle. Dating to around 1200 or slightly earlier, it was occupied into the 13th century and possibly later. It is located at the southern end of a narrow ridge, with steep slopes below on all but the south-east side – this gave the site great natural strength. Only the curtain wall of Dinas Powys Castle remains standing, and much of this is ruinous; but from the outside the castle still has the appearance of a defensive stronghold. The castle has a rectangular keep measuring 18m by 13m which is reduced to rubble. The very ruined north-west half of the early keep stands in a thicket just beyond the north curtain wall. It appears to have been a typical early Norman example, rectangular, with very thick walls, and it extended up to and possibly slightly beyond the curtain wall. When this was built a doorway, now a ragged gap, was made into the keep’s basement. The curtain wall is straight sectioned without corner towers and encloses a roughly rectangular area. The main entrance on the south-east side was originally a simple round-headed archway; now its merely a ragged gap, with a draw bar hole on its west side. A narrow postern gate with a pointed arch is located in the north-east wall and there are indications that masonry and timber buildings including a great hall will have lined the walls. The north-east and north-west curtain walls are high and well preserved, with much of their facing stone still in place. Putlog holes are the only relieving feature in their otherwise blank surfaces. The south-west wall is in poor condition and has lost most of its facing stone. The south-east side has the only window gaps in the castle and a fine east corner with large dressed Sutton stone alternating quoins. The castle was the centre of the lordship of Dinas Powys, and was held by the Norman de Sumeri family certainly in the mid-12th century and possibly earlier; the lordship was probably acquired by Roger de Sumeri soon after the initial Norman conquest of the area. (Scheduling Report)
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

Data >
Coflein   County HER   Scheduling   Listing    
Maps >
Streetmap   NLS maps   Where's the path   Old-Maps      
Data/Maps > 
Magic   Historic Wales   V. O. B.   Geology   LIDAR  
Air Photos > 
Bing Maps   Google Maps   Getmapping   ZoomEarth      
Photos >
CastleFacts   Geograph   Flickr   Panoramio      

Sources of information, references and further reading
Most of the sites or buildings recorded in this web site are NOT open to the public and permission to visit a site must always be sought from the landowner or tenant.
It is an offence to disturb a Scheduled Monument without consent. It is a destruction of everyone's heritage to remove archaeological evidence from ANY site without proper recording and reporting.
Don't use metal detectors on historic sites without authorisation.
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.
The possible site or monument is represented on maps as a point location. This is a guide only. It should be noted that OS grid references defines an area, not a point location. In practice this means the actual center of the site or monument may often, but not always, be to the North East of the point shown.
Locations derived from OS grid references and from latitude longitiude may differ by a small distance.
Further information on mapping and location can be seen at this link.
Lidar coverage in the UK is not complete. The button above will give an idea of the area of coverage. Higher resolution lidar images in both DSM and DTM form may be available from Lle A geo-Portal for Wales (click the preview tag to bring up a map and then select format byclicking on the small blue diamond in the top right corner of the map.)
Please help to make this as useful a resource as possible by contacting Gatehouse if you see errors, can add information or have suggestions for improvements in functality and design.
Help is acknowledged.
*The listed building may not be the actual medieval building, but a building on the site of, or incorporating fragments of the described site.

This record last updated 06/07/2016 17:18:30