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Clyro Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
La Royl

In the community of Clyro.
In the historic county of Radnorshire.
Modern authority of Powys.
Preserved county of Powys.

OS Map Grid Reference: SO21464357
Latitude 52.08484° Longitude -3.14770°

Clyro Castle has been described as a certain Timber Castle, and also as a probable Masonry Castle.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


The castle at Clyro is mentioned as being defensible in 1304 and buried remains were uncovered at this location in the early nineteenth century. The earthworks visible today include an oval scarped, ditched and counterscarped enclosure, c.65m NE-SW by 57m. There is a south-west facing entrance possibly adapted from a natural eminence. (Coflein)

Motte formed from a scarped and flattened natural knoll sited at W end of NE-SW ridge. surrounding ditch with counterscarp bank on all except E side. Orig causewayed entrance at sSW. Curtaining wall foundation on motte poss remains of shell keep. (Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust HER)

Natural hillock which as been made into a large mound up to 40m across on the top with a surrounding ditch. There are buried footings of a polygonal curtain wall probably with a keep or gatehouse on the south side and internal buildings. The castle may have been founded as early as the 1070s as a twin to Hay-on-Wye across the river. At the time when Hay was being refortified in stone Clyro was probably abandoned as its lands had been granted by the princes of Elfael to Abbey Cwmhir. Clyro Castle was probably rebuilt after the Tosny family regained Elfael in 1276, although the first specific mention of the castle is not until the area was being ruled by the Beauchamps from Pain's Castle in 1397. Clyro was amongst the several castles fortified in 1403 against Owain Glyndwr but probably soon fell into decay afterwards. (Salter, 2001)

The monument comprises the remains of a motte and ditch, dating to the medieval period (c. 1066 -1540 AD). A motte is a large conical or pyramidal mound of soil and/or stone, usually surrounded by either a wet or dry ditch, and surmounted by a tower constructed of timber or stone. Clyro Castle is a very large mound with a summit measuring c.60m north-east to south-west by c.50m, formed from a scarped and flattened natural knoll, sited at the west end of a north-east to south-west ridge. The motte stands c.4 to 5m above the present base of the silted ditch, which is c.2.5 to 3m wide. This ditch runs all the way around it apart from on the south-west, where there is a causewayed entrance. A slight counterscarp bank is present outside the ditch on all sides except the north-east, where it may have been damaged by later activity. The whole area is heavily wooded, making detailed survey difficult. No obvious masonry structures survive standing above ground, but a continuous heap of fallen stone with smaller attached heaps suggests that the whole area was enclosed by a curtain wall running round the edge of the mound with towers or buildings adjoining its inner side. (Scheduling Report)

Might be considered either as a motte with a embanked edge or a ringwork with a raised interior. There are considerable amounts of small rough stones around the site and in heaps within the site. It seems probable to Gatehouse that the mound was revetted with drystone walling and probably sheer or near sheer sided originally. This stone revetted mound would have made the castle a visual rival for Hay Castle 2km SE, on the other side of the River Wye (although the intervening low rises in the land mean they are not quite in clearly line of sight of each other).
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

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Coflein   County HER   Scheduling        
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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This record last updated 15/10/2016 17:48:34