Scheduled Monuments- Full Report

Summary Description of a Scheduled Monument

Reference Number
Llanvair Castle  
Date of Designation


Unitary Authority

Broad Class
Site Type


Summary Description and Reason for Designation
The following provides a general description of the Scheduled Ancient Monument. The monument consists of the remains of a medieval castle and a later mansion. It is located on the western edge of the village of Llanfair Discoed, immediately west of the churchyard. Most of the surviving masonry is thought to date from the first half of the 13th century when the FitzPayn family held the manor but may occupy an earlier site, Llanfair being one of three hardwicks or dairy farms held under Striguil or Chepstow Lordship in Domesday. It was later incorporated into a Tudor house of the Kemeys family. The castle is now incorporated into the garden of a modern house. The castle occupies a low spur to the north of and overlooking the parish church and present village, with wide views across this lower ground towards the Roman Via Julia. At the point of the spur is a compact rectangular masonry ward of roughly coursed limestone rubble with round towers at its N and S angles, the curtain wall standing to a height of up to 5m above the courtyard and 10m on externally on the west and south. This is defended by scarps to the S above the churchyard and dry ditch to the west and north; the present lane to Wentwood passes through the probable line of the eastern ditch. Further scarps to the north east define one side of a larger outer enclosure, largely built over by the present bungalow in the 1980s. It seems to have seems to have been entered on the northern side, where there is a 2.5m wide gap in the 1.5m thick curtain wall but no sign of a gatehouse. The principal surviving ranges were set against the curtain walls on the west and south. The west range seems to have contained a first-floor hall or well-appointed chamber block with two large robbed out windows piercing the curtain wall and a small doorway to the north that may have served an unusual timber latrine projecting over the ditch. most of the inner wall of the range has been reduced to the level of the rubble choked courtyard. The three-storied south-west corner tower is c3m in internal diameter with walls c1.8m thick. It still stands some 14m high to almost parapet level, where it retains probable joist-holes for a timber gallery or hourd. A nearly intact spiral stair in the thickness of the wall gives access to the two upper floors, a change in masonry indicating that the second storey may have been an addition; a doorway leads from it onto parapet of the west curtain wall. There were doorways at ground and first-floor levels, which may not be contemporary. Embrasures for windows survive on all three levels, those on the ground floor being plain splayed loops facing along the adjacent curtain walls. Another (blocked) with a square basal oillet (decoration) in Triassic sandstone similar to those in the later Marshal works at Chepstow and Caerleon faced along the south curtain at second floor level. The surviving details of the tower indicate a date in the first half of the thirteenth century. Additional windows on the upper floors have largely been robbed out. The northwestern angle tower was a relatively small turret and is solid at courtyard level. Across the ditch to the north within the former outer enclosure is the base of another isolated round structure, sometimes interpreted as a tower. This has been heavily rebuilt in recent years but the location and thin walls may indicate a dovecote. The eastern half of the site is more ruined; a high fragment of the south curtain wall and some thinner internal walls of an east-west range survive, the latter possibly relating to the later Kemeys house. The eastern defences and any structures overlooking the road had been robbed out by the early 19th century but the remains of their lower levels may survive buried. The monument is of national importance for its potential to enhance our knowledge of medieval defensive and domestic architecture. The surviving structures are well-preserved retain a number of distinctive period features that indicate the development of the building. It forms an important relic of the medieval landscape and a prominent feature within the modern one, being visible from several miles away on the lower ground to the south. It shares group value and a number of distinctive architectural features with other early to mid 13th century masonry castles in south-east wales, the round south-west tower being a fine example of its type. It retains significant archaeological potential, with a strong probability of the presence of both structural evidence and intact associated deposits. The scheduled area comprises the remains described and areas around them within which related evidence may be expected to survive.  

Cadw : Scheduled Monuments- Full Report [ Records 1 of 1 ]