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NORMAN ADVANCE IN POWYS
The reigns of the three first Norman kings were the time in which Norman supremacy in Wales made its greatest advances.
With the accession of Stephen and the civil war which followed it came the great opportunity for the Welsh of throwing off the Norman yoke. Powys appears to have been the only province which remained faithful to the English allegiance, under Madoc ap Meredith. The history of Norman conquest in Powys is more confused than that of Gwynedd, but Domesday shows us that Rainald, the Sheriff of Shropshire, a vassal of Earl Roger of Shrewsbury, was seated at Edeyrnion and Cynlle, two districts along the upper valley of the Dee.” Robert of Rhuddlan held ?
part of his grant of “Nort Wales," namely the hundred of Arwystli, in the very centre of Wales, under Earl Roger. Professor Lloyd remarks, “Earl Roger claimed the same authority over Powys as Earl Hugh over Gwynedd, and the theory that the princes of this region were subject to the lords of Salop survived the fall of the House of Montgomery.
We have already spoken of Earl Roger de Montgomeri and his brood of able and unscrupulous sons.* The palatine earldom of Shrewsbury lay along the eastern border of central Powys, and must soon have proved a menace to that Welsh kingdom. Domesday Book shows us that Earl Roger had already planted his castle of Montgomery well within the Welsh border at that date. But the ambition of Earl Roger and his
· Brut, 1149. Madoc ap Meredith, with the assistance of Ranulf, Earl of Chester, prepared to rise against Owen Gwynedd, son of Griffith ap Cynan.
2 D. B., i., 255a. Professor Lloyd says, “Maelor Saesneg, Cydewain, Ceri, and Arwystli came under Norman authority, and paid renders of money or kine in token of subjection.” “Wales and the Coming of the Normans,” Cymmrodor. Trans., 1899.
4 See page 130.
sons stretched beyond their immediate borders. It is probable that they used the upper Severn valley, which they fortified by the castle of Montgomery, and possibly by the castle of Welshpool, as their road into Ceredigion, for we find Earl Roger named by the Brut as the builder of the castle of Cilgerran," and some say of Cardigan also. Possibly he was helping his son Arnolf in the conquest of Pembroke.
In 1098 we find his successor, Earl Hugh, allied with the Earl of Chester in the invasion of Anglesea.
MONTGOMERY. - This castle is named from the ancestral seat of its founder. The motte-and-bailey plan is still very apparent in the ruins, though the motte is represented by a precipitous rock, only a few feet higher than the baileys attached, and separated from them by a ditch cut through the headland. The masonry, the chief part of which is the shell wall and towers on this isolated rock, is none of it older than the reign of Henry III., when large sums were spent on this castle, and it is spoken of in a writ as “the new Castle of Montgomery.” Yet even then the whole of the defences were not remade in stone, as bretasches of timber are ordered in a mandamus of 1223.* The four wards are all roughly rectilateral. The castle was never recovered permanently by the Welsh, and after the forfeiture of Robert Belesme, the third Earl of Shrewsbury, in 1101, the Crown kept this important border fortress in its own hands throughout the Middle Ages.
Although Montgomery Castle is the only one mentioned in that region at the same date, there must have been many others, for in 1225 Henry III. ordered
· Brut, under 1107. The castle is called Dingeraint by this chronicler.
3 “Ipse comes construxit castrum Muntgumeri vocatum.” D. B., i., 254.
3 Montgomery Collections, x., 56. 3
4 Close Rolls, i., 558b.
all who had mottes in the valley of Montgomery to fortify them with good bretasches without delay;' and the remains of these mottes are still numerous in the valley. It is quite possible that the mottes at Moat Lane and Llandinam were thrown up to defend the road into Arwystli; but this is conjecture.?
WELSHPOOL, alias Pol or Pool (Fig. 40), is also called the Castle of Trallung.--In Powell's History of Wales (p. 137) it is stated that Cadwgan ap Bleddyn, when Henry I. took Cardigan from him, retired to Powys, and began to build a castle here.
Powell's statements, however, have no authority when unconfirmed, and we are unable to find any confirmation of this statement in the more trustworthy version of the Brut. And as the House of Montgomeri was firmly established in the valley of Montgomery as early as 1086, it seems more probable that the two motte-and-bailey castles at Welshpool, lower down the Severn valley, are relics of the early progress of that family, especially as one of these castles is only about a mile east of Offa's Dyke, the ancient border. This latter motte is partly cut into by the railway, and diminished in size, but the bailey is nearly perfect. The other one is in the park of Powys Castle, and is an admirable specimen of its class. The breastwork round the top of the motte remains. [H. W.] It seems probable that this was the precursor of Powys Castle, and was abandoned at an early period, as the newer castle was known by the name of Castell Coch, or
1 “Firmiter precipimus omnibus illis qui motas habent in valle de Muntgumeri quod sine dilatione motas suas bonis bretaschiis firmari faciant ad securitatem et defensionem suam et partium illarum.” Close Rolls, ii., 42.
2 Mr Davies Pryce has suggested that the Hen Domen, a very perfect motte and bailey within a mile of the present castle of Montgomery was the original castle of Montgomery, and that the one built by Henry III. was on a new site. This of course is quite possible, but I do not see that there is sufficient evidence for it. See Eng. Hist. Rev., XX., 709.
the Red Castle, as early as 1233. Leland states that there were formerly two castles of two different Lords Marchers at Welshpool ;? possibly this throws some light on the existence of these two motte-castles.
When Henry II. came to the throne in 1154, one of the many questions which he had to settle was the Welsh question. His first expedition against North Wales was in 1157. Here he was one day placed in grave difficulties, and fortune was only restored by his personal courage. But in spite of this we learn even from the Welsh chronicler that he continued his advance to Rhuddlan, and that the object of the expedition, which was the restoration of Cadwalader, one of the sons of Griffith ap Cynan, to his lands, was accomplished. The English chronicler Roger of Wendover says that Henry recovered all the fortresses which had been taken from his predecessors, and rebuilt Basingwerk Castle ; and when he had reduced the Welsh to submission, returned in triumph to England. The undoubted facts of the Pipe Rolls show us that in the year 1159 Henry had in his hands the castles of Overton, Hodesley, Wrexham, Dernio, Ruthin, and Rhuddlan, castles which would give him command of the whole of Flintshire and of East Denbigh and the valley of the Clwyd. Similarly, after the expedition of 1165, sometimes stated to have been only disastrous, we find him in possession of the castles of Rhuddlan, Basingwerk, Prestatyn, Mold, Overton, and Chirk ;8 so that after the battle of Crogen, or Chirk, he actually held the battlefield.
1 Brut y Tywysogion.
? Itin., vii., 16. 3 Pipe Rolls, 1158-1164. It should be noted that the Brut does not claim the battle of Crogen as a Welsh victory.
We are thus introduced to an entirely new group of castles, Rhuddlan being the only one which we have heard of before. But it is highly probable that most of these castles were originally raised by the earls of Chester or Shrewsbury, and were in Henry's hands by escheat.
*BASINGWERK.—The werk referred to in this name has probably nothing to do with the castle, but refers to Wat's Dyke, which reaches the Dee at this point. The abbey at this place was founded by an earl of Chester, which makes it probable that the castle also was originally his work, especially as Wendover says that Henry rebuilt it. There is no trace of a castle near the abbey,” but less than a mile off, near Holywell Church, there is a headland called Bryn y Castell, with a small mound at the farther end, which has far more claim to be the site of Basingwerk Castle, especially as it is mentioned in John's reign (when it was retaken from the Welsh) as the castle of Haliwell.
OVERTON, in East Denbigh, on the middle course of the Dee. In custody of Roger de Powys for the king in 1159-1160. As Leland speaks of the ditches and hill of the castle, it was probably a motte-castle of the usual type. “One parte of the ditches and Hille of the castel yet remaynith ; the residew is in the botom of Dee.” 4 It is probably all there now, as not a vestige can be traced. [B. T. S.]
DERNIO, or Dernant.—There can be no question that
1 Lyttleton's History of Henry II.
2 Pennant thought he saw vestiges of a castle “in the foundations of a wall opposite the ruins” [of the abbey); but his accuracy is not unimpeachable.
3 Pipe Rolls, 1211-1213. “For the money expended in rescuing the castles of Haliwell and Madrael, £100."
4 Itin., p. 67. Toulmin Smith's edition of Welsh portion.