Medieval motte, Abergwyngregyn

Medieval motte, Abergwyngregyn

On the north side of the field you can see a circular earthwork, the remains of a medieval motte and bailey. The motte is known as Pen y Mwd (pronounced “mood”). The bailey, a wooden defensive enclosure, has long since vanished. There’s no public access to the motte – please keep out of the field.

Remains of a defensive ditch survive south of the motte. On the east side are traces of a rising curved path. The structure was probably built here to exert control over the area where the coast road met a track leading up into the valleys to the south. Cattle were grazed on the rich grounds in those valleys.

This type of castle was built by Norman lords in the decades after the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Nobody knows who built this example, but the Normans weren’t here for long. Gruffudd ap Cynan (1055-1137), King of Gwynedd, restored Gwynedd’s independence in the early 12th century and chose Abergwyngregyn as the location of his llys (court) in the commote of Arllechwedd Uchaf.

The court was used by later Welsh rulers including Llywelyn Fawr. His wife Siwan (or Joan) died there in 1237. Her body was taken over the Menai Strait for burial in Llanfaes. Nine years later their only son Dafydd also died at the court.

The court building was repaired in 1289 and 1303. It may have stood in the field south of the motte, where archaeologists excavated the footings of a hall house in 1993. They found many ancient objects, including a coin from c.1340 and a ring-brooch in a style which was common in the 13th and 14th century.

The village of Abergwyngregyn developed in the area between the motte and the church (which probably pre-dated the motte). It remained significant after the Welsh princes were defeated by King Edward I in the late 13th century. Around that time, the village was given a charter authorising it to hold a weekly market and annual fairs.

With thanks to Gwynedd Archaeological Trust

Postcode: LL33 0LN    View Location Map