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Caerau Castle Ringwork

off the A48 in Caerau district, Cardiff, south Wales
ST 136 750

Elisabeth Whittle 1992

The Normans sometimes placed their castles inside existing fortifications; at Cardiff and Caerwent there are mottes within Roman forts. Here a ringwork, a variant of the motte-and-bailey, was placed within an Iron Age hillfort. This both afforded extra protection from its banks and ditches, and gave excellent strategic position overlooking the low ground now occupied by Cardiff.

The ringwork castle has no mound, only an enclosing bank, with a ditch outside it. On top of the bank there would have been a palisade, and an entrance tower would have probably doubled as a keep. Inside there might have been a hall or other utilitarian buildings. The well preserved bank is oval, with an entrance gap on the south-west side, and a slight ditch on the south. Halfway along the outside of the east side is a stone-lined spring which may have been the castle's water supply.

This is another site that demonstrates the protection afforded to churches by close proximity to a castle. The sadly ruined and vandalized 13th-century church of St Mary stands forlornly nearby, its graveyard desecrated. It is possible that the graveyard covers the area of the castle's bailey.

Visit the Friends of St Mary's Church at Caerau web site

"The medieval church of St Mary stands on an Iron Age hill fort overlooking the ancient village of Caerau and the post-war housing estate of Ely. Adjacent to St Mary's is a medieval castle ringwork which in its time would have had palisade fencing and a tower."

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Copyright 2009 by Jeffrey L. Thomas