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Llyssun Motte

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Llysun; Llysin; Llyssin; Llanerfyl; Llyslun; Llynssyn

In the community of Llanerfyl.
In the historic county of Montgomeryshire.
Modern authority of Powys.
Preserved county of Powys.

OS Map Grid Reference: SJ03161007
Latitude 52.67975° Longitude -3.43387°

Llyssun Motte has been described as a certain Timber Castle, and also as a probable Palace.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


Llyssun Castle is a motte and bailey castle resting on a scarp above the Banwy floodplain. The ditched motte is c.20m in diameter and 4.0m high, with a summit only 4.0m in diameter, with the bailey to the west represented by a sub-rectangular scarped platform, 16m by 12m. The placename 'Llyssum' may be significant. (Coflein)

Motte sited above the river Banway and surrounded by a ditch 1.3m deep. The motte has a summit diameter of 4m. The bailey, which lies to the east, consists of a raised platform 16m by 12m. The castle was originally approached from the north (Silvester, R J 1992c, 83). Located on a natural spur which runs east-west on the north side of the Banwy flood plain. The motte is 4.0m above the surrounding pasture and has a diameter of 9.0m. It is separated from the bailey to the west by a distinct ditch which is badly eroded. The bailey is 16.0m east to west, 10.0m wide and 3.0m high. Several mature trees grow on the site (Cadw 1998). (Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust HER)

The monument comprises the remains of a motte and bailey castle, constructed upon a natural elongated hillock, in the valley of the Afon Banwy. The motte lies to the northeast, with an associated lower platform and bailey to the southwest. The motte stands 4m above the surrounding pasture, and is separated from the lower platform by a ditch (now substantially infilled with eroded motte material). The nature and characteristics of this monument suggest that it is of Welsh construction, as opposed to Anglo-Norman. (Scheduling Report)

The site is believed to be a Welsh fortification as the area was undoubtedly under Welsh control in the 12th century. The name Llysun is a variation of llys, a ‘court’ or ‘palace’. Though the precise location of the court, or indeed its date, is currently unknown, its clearly implies a Welsh rather than an Anglo-Norman context. The motte is situated around 200m south of a former deer park, ‘Llyssun Park’, assumed to be of medieval origin, though there is no corroborative evidence. This is shown in its entirety on an estate map of 1734 with its pale in place, and was recorded by the surveyor as 444 acres in extent. The motte and bailey is not itself depicted on the estate map, but its proximity to the park highlights its situation within a much wider medieval landscape.
The survey and investigations provide a detailed plan of the surviving earthworks and a record of the various erosion issues affecting the site, as well as identifying areas where potential archaeological deposits and features are currently exposed. The resulting data present a baseline for future monitoring and information which will assist in the general management of the monument.
The earthwork castle stands atop a natural glacial ridge with the motte at its eastern end, surviving to a height of around 4m and an overall diameter of around 20m. The level platform to the south-west measures 8m north-west/south-east by 12m north-east/south-west and is up to 2m high. This platform may have been occupied by a single large building, perhaps a hall, rather than a cluster of smaller buildings as one would expect to find on an adjoining bailey. A possible bailey lies at the south-west end of the ridge, measuring 13m north-west/south-east and 26m north-east/south-west. The ditch dividing the motte and platform presently survives to a depth of around 1.5m and is visible only on a north-north-west to south-south-east.
The castle is likely to have been constructed largely by remodelling the glacial ridge, enhanced by the redeposition of glacial deposits to strengthen the motte. There is no obvious ditch which could have acted as a quarry ditch and it is possible that some of the redeposited material may have been derived from the large, level area to the south-west that could have formed a bailey. The defences consist of a series of natural and modified slopes that would probably have been surmounted by a timber palisade. A former river channel of the Afon Banwy runs along the southern side of the monument, perhaps accounting for the sharpness of the slope on this side of the ridge and providing a natural defence for the motte. (CPAT)

Possible earlier welsh high status site.
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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This record last updated 10/05/2017 21:27:55