Penyclawdd is an ‘aberrant’ castle. It lies surprisingly close to the outskirts of Abergavenny in the pass between the rivers Monnow and Usk. Presumably it was an early knight’s fee of Abergavenny barony. From these Norman origins, by 1349, Penyclawdd had become a manor held by half a knight's fee from Abergavenny castle. This fee was held by Walter Kymbard from the late Earl Lawrence Hastings of Pembroke. Presumably the fee was much older as the castle remains suggest.
The castle consists of a double moated motte and ‘ringwork’ at the rear of the late Medieval Penyclawdd house. Penyclawdd castle is a puzzling site. It is defensively weak, backing onto the higher ground from which runs the small stream that feeds the outer moat. There appears to be a counterscarp on the outer edge of the wet moat to the north. Inside what initially appears to be a ringwork, is a small motte or platform. This is about ten feet above the inner dry ditch and has a diameter of about sixty feet. The top of the mound is solid and contains stone. The remains of the possible 'ringwork' has been destroyed on the east side by the medieval house, and on the south side by the walled garden and farmyard. The ‘ringwork’ bank is at least fifteen feet wide and is about the same height except on the north-west side where it is higher than the motte. The inner ditch is about 15-20 feet wide, but appears to be wider on the north side. The suggestion that the inner work may have been a ringwork with a motte within is suggested by the thickness and height of the bank, and the fact that it is as high as the mound, except where it actually overlooks the mound to the north-west. It is possible that the ringwork continued on the south and east sides or was replaced by a bailey which would now be destroyed under the house, garden and farmyard. The farmyard appears to be on a platform, there being a 'lip' where the access road enters the farmyard. The outer ditch also shows signs of having originally continued further south.
Copyright©1994-2004 Paul Martin Remfry