Twyn y Garth
This site at Grid Reference SO.107.437 was thought to have been a hill-fort, until in 1967 its similarity to a castle ringwork was recognised. The climb up Twyn y Garth accords wonderful views across the Wye valley as well as of the surrounding amphitheatre of mountains. The castle lies with the cantref of Elfael on the opposite side of the River Wye to Cantref Selyf.
The main defences of the castle proper were undoubtedly the slightly squashed oval ringwork set on the highest point of the hill. The entrance to the ringwork was apparently gained by a causeway through the ditch and a corresponding break in the rampart beyond. The 6' deep ditch appears to be virtually at its original depth. Beyond the ditch is a slight counterscarp which protects the gently sloping interior platform. To the south lies a rectangular annexe or bailey that covers the southern base of the hill. This bailey that would have effectively doubled the internal area of the ringwork. Its defences are now only marked by a low 1' high rampart with the slightest trace of an accompanying and never substantial ditch. The large amounts of stone found in this slight bank may suggest that it once was a low wall or breastwork, although the flimsy nature of the entire site may suggest that the fortification was never completed and that this bailey was merely marked out on the hill top in a one to one scale ground plan.
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The Castles and History of Radnorshire (ISBN 1-899376-82-8) takes a further look at the history of Twyn y Garth. The book consists of 309 pages of A4 and examines in greater detail the history and castles of Radnorshire and Rhwng Gwy a Hafren. Starting in the early eleventh century the book covers the age of the castles up to the Civil War of 1642-46. Each castle description is buttressed by numerous photographs and plans of the earthworks and remains where they survive. A new look is also taken at the battlefield of Pilleth and the evidence for the course of the battle is scrutinised. The book also contains genealogical family trees of the major historical Radnorshire families and a full index.
Available for £39.95.
Paul Martin Remfry