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Trelech Town Defences

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Trellech; Tryleg; Trelleck; Trillech

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

OS Map Grid Reference: SO500054
Latitude 51.74584° Longitude -2.72509°

Trelech Town Defences has been described as a probable Urban Defence.

There are cropmark/slight earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


Norman town planted here by the de Clares and flourished in the shadow of the castle. By 1288 its population was larger than that of Chepstow, and at the beginning of C14 it was one of the eight largest towns in Wales. Thereafter it declined and shrank, following a fire started during a welsh attack 1296, although the decline was a prolonged one. Its former success is attested by its large church, which had a fine late medieval cross in the churchyard. (Whittle 1992)

It is possible to detect something of the defences which enclosed the medieval borough. These appear to have been in the form of a ditch and slight bank, perhaps topped with a timber palisade, which followed the rectangular course determined by the four streams. (Soulsby 1983)

The monument consists of a shrunken village dating to the medieval period. This is a settlement where previous house sites are now unoccupied, but visible as earthworks, crop or soil marks. Excavations in 1998 revealed four masonry structures and building debris of two others. The house frontages were on Catbrook Road and Tinker's Lane Street, with a series of boundary ditches and walls associated with the burgage plots. There are also a series of ditches possibly associated with water management. The north west area is waterlogged with pieces of wood appearing in archaeological sections. The pottery associated with the houses was dated from the 12th to 14th centuries. (Scheduling Report)

There has been some debate about the location of the town but the excavation south of the village seem to be of a suburb of the town not the town itself the defences of which went around the modern village, the church (at given map reference) and the motte castle, but excluded this, clearly large and significant, suburb. Wales was not a place of large towns and the eighth largest town means this was still a small town, certainly in comparison to English towns. Describing it as a 'lost city' is misleading, and not only because this was never the site of a cathedral, Gatehouse is of the opinion that the site is of great interest for what it was and does not need to aggrandised.
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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This record last updated 03/07/2016 11:38:10