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Y Gaer, Manor Pound, Maenclochog

In the community of Maenclochog.
In the historic county of Pembrokeshire.
Modern authority of Pembrokeshire.
Preserved county of Dyfed.

OS Map Grid Reference: SN08372722
Latitude 51.91047° Longitude -4.78749°

Y Gaer, Manor Pound, Maenclochog has been described as a certain Timber Castle, and also as a certain Masonry Castle.

There are cropmark/slight earthwork remains.


No remains of motte and bailey destroyed by Llywelyn ap Gruffydd. Tradition of having stone defenses. (King)

This site is a small green field on which is a striking natural outcrop of rock, almost circular in form, and having a flattened top from 10 to 12 feet above the level. It shows no signs of human workmanship. No evidences appear that a building has ever stood upon it. The two fields directly south are known as Pare y gaer ucha and issa (Tithe Schedule, Nos. 407-8), and the field where the outcrop occurs is known as Manor Pound in the Tithe Schedule, No. 40. NOTE.—According to Fenton (Tour, p. 349), " this village (Maenclochog) was formerly defended by a castle, of whose siege and demolition in general terms we read in the Welsh Chronicle; but from the very trifling remains it appears to have been small, a mere outpost or exploratory fort, either raised by the lord of Cemaes, on the limits of his newly-acquired territory, or by the first grantee of the mesne lordship on the site of an old British earthwork. It is remarked that there is a greater number of fairs there than in any other part of the county." The latter circumstance is due to the central position of the village in relation to the greater part of the county. (RCAHMW, 1925)

A two-week archaeological excavation was undertaken at Maenclochog ... aimed to discover evidence of the 'castle site' long believed by local people to be located on the present day site of the village car park and amenity centre. The wall of a manorial pound, the remains of a castle wall, a defensive bank and ditch, and evidence of a pre-Norman settlement were all revealed. The excavation has shown that before the castle was built, there was an early medieval defended settlement on the site which was surrounded by a defensive bank and ditch. (Schlee, 2008)

The reputed site of Maenclochog Castle comprises a small flat-topped rock outcrop that rises on the southern edge of the Pound, a rather irregular curvilinear walled enclosure of about 0.15ha. The outcrop in its present form is sometimes thought to have been shaped into a castle mount or motte. It is oval or subrectangular in plan, about 19m across at the base and 3.2-4.0m high, with a level summit 13.3-14m across. The Pound is a ruinous drystone enclosure roughly 47-51m across. It is probably eighteenth century and was the site of livestock markets. It has been identified both as a castle enclosure or bailey, associated with the mound and as a later Prehistoric settlement enclosure. Excavations in September 2007 examined a section of the Pound perimeter and a small area of the interior. It was found that the Pound wall rested above the foundations of a massive 2.2m wide stone wall. Beyond this was a large defensive ditch with the remains of a clay rampart between the two. Medieval pottery was recovered. In the interior parts of two roundhouses were encountered. It is probable that the Pound enclosure started as a settlement enclosure. The roundhouses are characteristic of settlement in the region from the later Prehistoric and through the Roman period. This was adapted as a castle, probably in the twelfth-thirteenth century. The mount would have been crowned by a great tower of timber or stone and there would have been a court or mansion in the bailey. This may have been enclosed by an earthwork and timber rampart before the great wall was built. (Coflein)

Although said to have no remains a mound is shown on the OS map and seems to appear on the modern air photo with an enclosure (used as a car park) to the north. Has a natural rock outcrop been used, virtually unaltered, as a symbolic motte for the castle, the bailey of which contained the important castle buildings (c.f. Pilsbury Castle, Derbyshire). The original bank and ditch may have been early medieval and the site is likely to have been 'the fortified stronghold of a Welsh Lord at the heart of a commote within the Cantref of Cemais' (Schlee) The Norman masonry curtain wall was demolished before 1440.
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This record last updated 20/04/2016 09:49:23