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Knighton Castle

Knighton, Powys (Radnorshire), Wales

Photograph and text copyright by John Northall

With acknowledgements to The Royal Commission into Ancient Monuments in Wales

Above: The motte peeps above the surrounding buildings and its bailey lies to the right.

The small Welsh border town of Knighton has two earthwork castles, one to the east and one to the west of the town centre. The castle shown here is the more impressive of the two and may have replaced the other earthwork, which was smaller and built on lower ground.

This earthwork seems to be a nice example of a small but almost complete motte and bailey, which is frustratingly hidden by later residential properties. It is fairly strongly situated at the top of a hill close to the line of Offa's Dyke, which runs through the western edge of the town at this point, and is currently used as a private garden.

The bailey was protected by a five metre high motte at its most vulnerable northern end, the southern side being protected by a steep slope down to the river. The motte has been partly revetted in modern times to accomodate houses built over its infilled ditch.

Slightly built stone walls on the motte and within the bailey can be glimpsed through gaps in the encircling ring of properties but they seem to be merely garden features. A local rumour states that a passageway at the north-eastern corner of the earthwork leads to an inhabited room within the motte.

An entry in the pipe roll for 1182 (the Kings finacial accounts) refers to the castle at Knighton but this may be either earthwork in the town. Another entry of 1191, naming the acquisitive Norman baron William de Braose in connection with building work at Knighton, presumably refers to this castle as it seems to have been more developed than its neighbour.

Llewelyn ap Gruffudd captured Knighton castle during his conquest of the area in 1262 and the castle was subsequently destroyed.

 

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