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RUDBAXTON RATH, RUDBAXTON

Site Details



NPRN 305250

Map Reference SM91NE

Grid Reference SM98541886

Unitary (Local) Authority Pembrokeshire

Old County Pembrokeshire

Community Rudbaxton

Type of Site HILLFORT

Broad Class DEFENCE

Period Iron Age, Medieval, Early Medieval

Site Description Rudbaxton Rath is a subcircular banked, ditched and counterscarped enclosure, about 100m north-south by 95m, having a possible north-facing entrance; resting within the western ramparts is an eliptical enclosure, about 50m NNW-SSE by 32m, presently ploughed-down, but depicted on OS County series (Pembroke. XXIII.13 1889), as banked and ditched, with a north-east-facing, causewayed entrance - thought to represent the medieval Symon’s Castle. The enclosure was also the site of a medieval chapel to Rudbaxton parish and was reportedly conferred upon Slebech Commandery by Alexander Rudepac along with the parish church in 1152-1176. The grant referred to the chapel as ‘Capella Sci. Leonardi de Castro Symonis’. The chapel was also mentioned in documents of 1398, when permission to celebrate mass in the chapel was granted to the Vicar of Rudbaxton. Slight remains of the chapel were reportedly visible on the north-east slope of the rampart until the mid-19th century, when ‘some bones were disinterred’. This indicates that the chapel may have had early medieval origins, with the enclosure used as a cemetery. Second edition Ordnance Survey mapping depicts the chapel site outside the north-eastern ramparts, some 20m to the east of the enclosure. Also on the north-east side of the enclosure, St Leonard's well (NPRN 305249) impinges on the main rampart. Two twisted iron rings, about 20cm in diameter, possibly torcs and an approx. half-sized iron model of a hand, found 'at "the Rath"' about 1865, are thought to be Iron Age, or possibly Roman, although the presence of a medieval castle, holy well and chapel should be taken into consideration. The site is said to have been involved in the English Revolution and finds of unspecified armour have been noted.

The site is scheduled, but in 2002 the area occupied by the well and the supposed site of the chapel were obscured by undergrowth and the dumping of spoil and scrap. In addition the northern end of the counterscarp bank had been removed to give access for farm vehicles and a ryegrass crop occupied the interior of the enclosure.


Sources include:
Arch. Journal 22 (1865), 81-2, British Museum 1925 'Guide to Antiquities of the Early Iron Age' 2nd ed., 149
Cambria Archaeology, 2003, Early Medieval Ecclesiastical Sites Project, Pembrokeshire gazetteer

J. Wiles 29.09.04

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