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 

Castell Cynfal, Bryn Crug

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Cynfael; Towyn; Bryn y Castell

In the community of Bryn-crug.
In the historic county of Merioneth.
Modern authority of Gwynedd.
Preserved county of Gwynedd.

OS Map Grid Reference: SH61490160
Latitude 52.59457° Longitude -4.04609°

Castell Cynfal, Bryn Crug has been described as a certain Timber Castle.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


Castell Cynfal is an isolated motte identified with a castle destroyed in 1147 and probably established only a short time before. The castle mound is situated above a line of crags on the crest of an isolated ridge on the lower slopes of the mountains on the south side of the Dysynni vale. This is a circular ditched mound, 42m in diameter & 5.0m high. The rock-cut ditch is some 3.0m accross & 1.0m deep. The summit of the mound is dished, producing an enclosed area about 12.5-13.5m across defined by a 1.0m high bank. There are no indications of further works. (Coflein–John Wiles 10.07.07)

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, formerly surmounted by a tower constructed of timber or stone. Castell Cynfal is a modest but remarkably well preserved motte built on a prominent natural boss of rock commanding an impressive view to the SW and NW across the valley of the Afon Dysynni. Immediately to the NW there is a precipitous drop of over 30m but elsewhere the slope is not so steep nor is the fall so marked as the ground level rises towards Cynfal-fach. The interior on the top of the mound is roughly circular, measuring c.12m in diameter internally. There is a low bank around the edge of the mound but this is very spread and in places is more than 4m wide, while only 0.5m-0.75m high. From the crest of the bank the slope of the mound falls steeply c.5m-6m on all sides to the base of a well preserved rock-cut ditch. This is particularly impressive on the SW and NE where it is up to 4.5m wide and 1.3m deep below the external ground level, but it does in fact continue around the complete perimeter, even along the top of the precipice on the NW. There may, however, be an interruption on the ESE which could mark the position of an entrance leading in from a slight, possibly artificial, ramp up the natural rock slope. A bailey could perhaps have existed to the SW, but the area has been cultivated so that now no evidence remains, although it is possible that some of the irregularities close to the edge of the precipice on the NW may be of some antiquity. The motte was built in 1147 by Cadwaladr ap Gruffudd ap Cynan and was defended by Morfran, lay-abbot of the clas of Tywyn, but was captured later that year by Cadwaladr’s nephews, Hywel and Cynan, sons of Owain Gwynedd. (Scheduling Report)

Motte and bailey design, though by the Welsh, not the Norman invaders. The bailey was created by cutting a deep ditch across a high promontory, and the site commands good views over the Dysynni below. Tradition holds Cadwaladr ap Grufudd responsible for building Cynfael, sometime in the mid 1100's.
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

Data >
Coflein   County HER   Scheduling        
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.

This record last updated 06/07/2016 18:58:56