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Tomen Llansantffraid, Rhayader

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Llansantffraid Cwmdeuddwr; Park Style; Rhaeadr; Motimers Castle

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

OS Map Grid Reference: SN96766778
Latitude 52.29791° Longitude -3.51616°

Tomen Llansantffraid, Rhayader has been described as a certain Timber Castle.

There are cropmark/slight earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


Tomen, Llansantffraid is a probable castle mound. This could be the castle built by Rhys ab Gruffudd in 1177, destroyed in 1190, rebuilt and again destroyed in 1194, however, these events are usually linked to the castle site across the river (NPRN 94001). An irregular steep sided flat topped mound in the region of 12-15m across and 3.7m high, it is crowded on all sides by modern buildings and has been disturbed by gardening. Known as 'Tower Hill' in the eighteenth century, it was described as 'deeply ditched or moated round' in 1818. There are reports of a 'low unmortared wall'. There is no trace of a suggested bailey. (Coflein)

Motte c3.7m high and damaged on all sides by modern buildings. No sign of supposed bailey (see Williams, J 1858) but probably to the east. Salvage excavations by CPAT 1982. Cleaning and recording of a section during remedial works. Complex stratification comprising core of loam and turf with tips of gravel forming outer and upper levels of the mound (Silvester, R J 1990d, 69; Silvester, R J 1991b, 109-114; Nenk, B S, Margeson, S & Hurley, M 1991, 236). (Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust HER)

The monument comprises the remains of a motte, 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. Tomen Llansantffraid sits above the west bank of the Wye overlooking a probable crossing point. The site was known as 'Tower Hill' in the 18th century and was described in 1818 as having a surrounding ditch, no trace of which now survives. 19th and 20th century construction has resulted in the site being hemmed in, and cut into in places, by walling and other structures; the remaining open portion has been incorporated into a garden and landscaped. The motte is c.3.7m high and was probably originally c.12-15m in diameter. Antiquarian sources suggested a bailey on the east, but if this was ever present, no trace now survives. The monument is of national importance for its potential to enhance our knowledge of medieval defensive practices. The monument is well-preserved and an important relic of the medieval landscape. It retains significant archaeological potential, with a strong probability of the presence of both structural evidence and intact associated deposits. The site may have operated as a pair with Rhayader Castle (Scheduled Monument RD132), which lies c.230m to the north-north-east on the other side of the Wye. The scheduled area comprises the remains described and areas around them within which related evidence may be expected to survive. (Scheduling Report)

Across the river from Rhayader Castle, although the relationship between the two sites is unknown. They lay in separate administrative areas and may not have been in use at the same time. (Burnham)

A charter of the 1180's proves that Rhys' castle was on the west bank of the Wye in Commote Dewdr and not actually in Gwrtheyrnion where current-day Rhayadr is. From this one piece of evidence it appears clear that Rhys' castle was the motte to the west of the Wye and the Norman castle the ringwork? with deep rock-cut ditch next to the church on the east bank. (Remfry - pers corr.)
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This record last updated 28/06/2017 18:13:04