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Graig Foel, Llanbadoc

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

OS Map Grid Reference: SO36950102
Latitude 51.70436° Longitude -2.91423°

Graig Foel, Llanbadoc has been described as a probable Timber Castle.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


A partial castle ringwork is located on a steep-sided spur projecting from high ground above the flood-plain of the Usk. A roughly semi-circular area measuring 16.5m (NW-SE) by 13m is bounded on the NE by the scarp edge, the top of a steep, wooded slope, and elsewhere by a bank 10m-12m wide and up to 3m high above an external rock-cut ditch 1.5m deep and 2m wide at base. Internally the bank is 1.5m high on the NW but only 0.4m on the SE where the slope of the nose of the ridge steepens markedly. A 4.5m gap on the SE between the end of the bank and the scarp edge is probably the site of the entrance. (Coflein)

The monument comprises the remains of a partial ringwork, a military stronghold probably dating to the post-Conquest 11th and 12th centuries. The ringwork forms a well defended compact enclosure, its central area bounded by a substantial crescentic rampart with external ditch and a steep natural escarpment on the NW side. The site is situated within woodland on the leading edge of a steeply-sided ridge above and to the W of the floodplain of the River Usk, overlooking the town of Usk. The interior is roughly D-shaped on plan and measures 16.5m from NW to SE by 13m transversely. The crescentic rampart measures about 6m in thickness and up to 3m in height. The rock-cut ditch measures about 1.5m in depth and about 2m in width at its base. A gap in the rampart in the NE side may represent the site of the entrance. Ringworks were defended medieval castle enclosures serving a similar function to motte and bailey castles. They usually had a strong gatehouse, which could serve as the keep. The principal buildings, such as the lord's hall, lay within the enclosure. The surrounding bank had an external ditch and was surmounted by a timber palisade. A bridge across the ditch would give access to the entrance to the enclosure. The timber structures were sometimes rebuilt at a later date in stone. (Scheduling Report)

This isolated site seems to have been accepted as medieval without question, although it has only been recognised in recent times. It sits on the end of promontory facing Usk castle on the other side of the Usk. However another, very similar, ringwork Twyn Bell Camp is recorded as Iron Age despite being next to the medieval parish church. Have earlier castle author missed this or did it just never occur to them to consider it as medieval? Prior's identification may have been effected by the motivation behind his PhD thesis on which his book is based although the Coflein record seems to predate his work.
My thoughts are both sites are likely to be Iron Age in origin; the Tywn Bell site may have had medieval use as a manorial centre; this site is unlikely to have anything other than very short lived medieval occupation. Because of the Coflein record I have labelled this as a possible site in the Gatehouse record although I personally would consider it questionable without clear archaeological evidence of medieval occupation. (Philip Davis)
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 07/07/2016 08:24:35