8. Castell Cawr, Abergele

SH 9375 767

This fort lies on a limestone hill top overlooking Abergele. It is partly hidden in woodland but this is maintained by the Woodland Trust and there are signposted public paths through the woods (Coed-y-gopa). Take exit 23A off the A55, proceed south through the town past the church, turn right along the A547, and then third left to Tan-y-gopa. Park at foot of hill from where the footpath is signed. The interior of the fort is obscured by trees but the main ramparts are large and obvious and the path follows them around the summit. The entrance on the west side has been cleared to make it visible

This was a small but very strong hillfort with an internal area of about 2ha. The north side of the defences consists of natural sheer cliffs but the other sides have a very large single bank and ditch, most easily seen around the main entrance at the west, where the banks are exceptionally high. With the addition of a timber rampart wall the original entrance would have been very impressive and perhaps designed mainly for that purpose rather than just for defensive strength.

A second smaller outer bank and ditch runs around the west and north-west side, some way out from the main enclosure, where the slope is gentler and would have been easier for attackers. A deep ravine known as Ffos y Bleiddiad (Ditch of the Wolves), lies slightly further out to the west, which the path crosses by a bridge, and is impressive but nothing to do with the fort being the result of lead mining, carried out from the 18th century and perhaps earlier.

There have been no excavations here and no stray finds to show when the fort was built or occupied. The name means ‘Giant’s Castle’. The interior is obscured by woodland but recent survey for the Woodland Trust has identified the platforms of at least eight roundhouses as well as some extra details of the defences. The position of the fort, before the woodland developed, would have given it a commanding view over the lower Clwyd Valley. Its position was matched on the other side by another strong fort on the end of the Clwydian Hills at Moel Hiraddug, above Dyserth.

The fort and area around it are protected as a Scheduled Ancient Monument under the care of Cadw. Any kind of damage, digging or metal detecting is prohibited. The woodland containing the area of the fort and the paths are private but with public access. Please report any problems or damage.

Cadw: 01443-336000
Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust: 01938-553670 www.cpat.org.uk