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but it was in English possession in the reign of Henry III. It was abandoned when Edward I. built his great castle at Conway.
With its usual indifference, the Survey mentions no castle in Flintshire, but we may be sure that the castle of Mold, or Montalto (Fig. 40), was one of the earliest by which the Norman acquisitions in that region were defended," though it is not mentioned in authentic history until 1147. The tradition that it was built by Robert de Monte Alto, one of the barons of the Earl of Chester, is no doubt correct, though the assumption of Welsh legend-makers that the Gwydd Grug, or great tumulus, from which this castle derives its Welsh name, existed before the castle, may be dismissed as baseless. The motte of Robert de Monte Alto still exists, and is uncommonly high and perfect; it has two baileys, separated by great ditches, and appears to have had a shell on top. [D. H. M.] The castle was regarded as specially strong, and its reduction by Owen Gwynedd in 1147 was one of the sweetest triumphs that the Welsh ever won.”
It is clear from the Life of Griffith ap Cynano that the Earl of Chester had conquered and incastellated Gwynedd before the accession of William Rufus. This valuable document unfortunately gives no dates, but it mentions in particular the castle at Aberlleinog, * one at
1 See Pennant, ii., 151; and Arch. Camb., 1891, p. 321. 2 Brut of Tywysogion, 1145.
3 Published with a Latin translation in Arch. Camb., 1866. “He built castles in various places, after the manner of the French, in order that he might better hold the country.”
4 The Brut also mentions the castle of Aberlleinog, and says it was built in 1096 ; rebuilt would have been more correct, as the “ Life of Griffith ap Cynan” shows that it was built by the Earl of Chester, and burnt by Griffith, before the expedition of 1096 (really 1098), when Hugh, Earl of Shrewsbury, met with his death on the shore near this castle, from an arrow shot by King Magnus Barefoot, who came to the help of the Welsh.
Banwy or Einion.
FIG, 40.—MOTTE-CASTLES OF NORTH WALES.
[To face p. 260.
Carnarvon, one at Bangor, and one in Merioneth. The motte at ABERLLEINOG, near Beaumaris, still exists, and the half-moon bailey is traceable, but the curious little round towers and revetting wall in masonry on the motte were probably built to carry guns at the time of the Civil War, when this castle was besieged by the Royalists. At CARNARVON the magnificent castle of Edward I. has displaced all former erections, yet some evidence for a motte-and-bailey plan may be found in the fact that the northern portion of the castle has evidently been once separated by a ditch from the southern, and is also much higher. On the hills above BANGOR,
" Pennant thought he had discovered the remains of Earl Hugh's castle, but having carefully examined these walls, we are convinced that they never formed part of a castle at all, as they are much too thin ; nor are there any vestiges of earthworks. We are disposed to think that instead of at Bangor, the castle of Earl Hugh was at ABER, often spoken of as ABERMENAI in the Chronicles, and evidently the most important port on the Straits. At Aber there still remains a motte which must have belonged to an important castle, as it was afterwards one of the seats of Llywelyn ap Jorwerth, Prince of Gwynedd.
The castle in Merioneth cannot be certainly identified.
In one of the invasions of William Rufus, which both the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and the Brut describe as so unsuccessful, we hear that he encamped at Mur
1 Mr Hartshorne in his paper on Carnarvon Castle (Arch. Journ., vii.) cites a document stating that a wall 18 perches long had been begun round the moat (possibly motam; original not given). He also cites from the Pipe Rolls an item for wages to carriers of earth dug out of the castle.
2 This ruined wall runs in a straight line through the wood on the ridge to the east of the town; at one place it turns at right angles ; at the back of the golf pavilion is a portion still erect, showing that it was a dry built wall of very ordinary character.
Castell, a place undoubtedly the same as what is now called TOMEN-Y-Mur, a motte standing just inside a Roman camp, on the Roman road leading from Shropshire into Merioneth and Carnarvon. This motte is
. surrounded by a ditch ; there are traces of the usual earthen rampart round the top, now mutilated by landslips. We may, with great probability, assume that this motte was thrown up by William Rufus, and that the Roman camp served as a bailey for his invading host. Whether it was garrisoned for the Normans we cannot say, but it evidently formed an important post on a route often followed by their invading armies, as Henry I. is said to have encamped there twice. It is one of the few mottes which stand in a wild and mountainous situation, and its purpose no doubt was purely military.*
The earls of Chester did not retain the sovereignty of Gwynedd ; on the death of Rufus, Griffith ap Cynan returned, and obtained possession of Anglesea. He was favourably received at the court of Henry I., and gradually recovered possession of the whole of Gwynedd. In 1114 Henry had to undertake a great expedition against him to enforce the payment of tribute ;4 from which, and from the peaceful manner in which Griffith seems to have acquired his principality, we may infer that this tribute was the bargain of his possession. It very likely suited Henry's policy better to have a tributary Welsh prince than a too powerful earl of Chester.
1 Roman masonry has been exposed in the bank of the station.
Life of Griffith ap Cynan; Brut, 1111. 3 Arch. Camb., iv., series 296 and 911.
4 The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle dates this expedition in 1114, and says that Henry caused castles to be built in Wales. The Brut mentions the large tribute, 1111.