The castle 'half ringwork' (R) at Grid Reference SO.059413, as it is described in Castellarium, is indeed a curious structure. It is best seen from the east, although the aerial photograph in Timber Castles emphasises its wild and spectacular position between the headwaters of the Scithwer and Clettwr streams. Any history the site may have is linked with the story of Cantref Selyf in which the earthworks stand. It is possible that this peculiar earthwork is linked to the religious grange of Gwenddwr and may be similar in purpose and construction to Stowe grange in the Forest of Dean.
The ditch to the east is some thirty feet from the barely silted base to the top of the inner rampart. To the west, where the scarp of the hill offers greater protection, the ditch is only some ten feet deep and no internal rampart is present. Surrounding the ditch is a weak counterscarp bank, almost removed by rabbits to the west, and correspondingly more prominent to the more vulnerable uphill east where a causeway fills the ditch and the inner rampart is breached to allow access to the ward. Sheep digging into the counterscarp have literally unearthed some of the construction of the counterscarp, which may suggest that it was built in two or three sessions. At the lowest point some half way down the ditch the counterscarp was seen to consist of a fine grey clay. Above this is a whiter band of clay which is followed by a reversion to grey. On the very top of the bank it can be seen that there is much angular rubble. The appearance of this rubble only in the top two feet of the counterscarp may be indicative of masonry defences, perhaps a low mantlet wall on the exposed eastern front. Certainly no trace of masonry was visible on the lesser parts of the bank especially in the rabbit damaged parts. What was thought to have been a robber trench was then discovered in the western half of the ringwork. Slight traces of a rubble curtain were also noted at the southern end of this filled 'trench' just before the powerful eastern rampart begins.
Extracted from The Castles of Breconshire, Now out of stock. A new version is planned.
Copyright©1994-2004 Paul Martin Remfry