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Castell Taliorum, Llanhilleth

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Castell Taliurum; Llanhithel; Castell Hithell

In the community of Llanhilleth.
In the historic county of Monmouthshire.
Modern authority of Blaenau Gwent.
Preserved county of Gwent.

OS Map Grid Reference: SO21800199
Latitude 51.71052° Longitude -3.13426°

Castell Taliorum, Llanhilleth has been described as a certain Masonry Castle.

There are masonry footings remains.


Excavations in 1924-5 uncovered the bases of two monumental towers that together are thought to have made up a short lived fourteenth century castle. This lay on the far edge of Abergavenny lordship and may have been associated with the nearby Tillery Forest. A castle mount beyond the church to the south-west (NPRN 306241) presumably represents an earlier castle, possibly that destroyed in 1233. The present church is thought to have originated in the twelfth century (NPRN 12897). The eastern tower was a plain round structure, 18m in diameter with battered walls some 4.0m wide at the base. The western tower was an elaborate cruciform structure about 23m across. Much dressed stone was recovered from its wreck. The towers stood only 7.0m apart but it is not known whether they were contemporary. Seventeenth century material was recoved from the demolition layers. The OS County series 1st edition (Monmouth. XVII.16 1880) shows a circular bank on the site of the round tower and a shapeless mound on that of its fellow. The site was levelled soon afterwards, when possible Roman pottery and a third century coin were noted. There are no visible remains. (Coflein)

Since the 18th century, two large mounds in the field behind the Carpenter's Arms and the old Castle Inn have attracted the attention of antiquaries. In 1779, Edmund Jones suggested that the name Castell Taliorum was derived from a Latin name Castrum Italorum, meaning the "fort of the Italians" (Jones 1779, p. 59) and this led to speculation that the mysterious mounds might represent the remains of a Roman fort or watch-tower. Archdeacon Coxe visited the site in 1799 and gives a useful description: "On the north-western side of the church are the remains of a fortified post, consisting of a small tumulus and circular entrenchment, which communicated with each other; within the latter are the vestiges of subterraneous walls, faced with hewn stone, and not less than nine feet thick; at a little distance to the west is a higher mound or barrow."(Coxe 1801, 253) However, excavations carried out in 1924 and 1925 proved the site to be the remains of a medieval castle (Lewis 1924 and 1925). The digs revealed the foundations of two large, stone-built towers. One was a cruciform keep-tower (King 1983, 285), some 21m (70ft) across with recessed corners. The cruciform interior was lit by round-headed windows and steeply-shelving arrow-loops. Some 6m to the east were the partly-destroyed base courses of a round tower about 19m (64ft) in external diameter. The interior may have been circular or multi-angular and there were traces of a central pillar. Local Pennant grit was used for facing the rubble and clay core, with dressings of stone from the Forest of Dean. The excavations produced both 17th century and medieval pottery - though none was older than the 14th century (Bailey 1957, 26). This unique combination of fortifications is very puzzling. The round tower was much larger than the other round keeps of south-east Wales and has been compared with fine examples at Pembroke Castle and Morlais, near Merthyr (Renn 1961, 142). The castle had almost certainly been abandoned by the 14th century (Rees 1948). An entry in the Brut y Tywysogion ("Chronicle of the Princes") for 1233 records that Llywelyn the Great burnt the castles at Monmouth, Cardiff and Abergavenny and "the castrum called Castell Hithell" (Bailey 1957, 26). If this were a genuine medieval entry, it would prove the existence of a castle at this site as early as the 13th century. (01) (Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust HER)

A record of 1233 records Llywelyn the Great burnt "the castrum called Castell Hithell" this may refer to either castle at Llanhilleth; Taliorum or the motte SW of the church. For some reason King described this site as two separate towers; did he feel these towers were occupied at different times?
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This record last updated before 1 February 2016