Ancient Monuments

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Cnwclas Castle

A Scheduled Monument in Beguildy (Bugeildy), Powys

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Latitude: 52.3636 / 52°21'48"N

Longitude: -3.1029 / 3°6'10"W

OS Eastings: 324996

OS Northings: 274521

OS Grid: SO249745

Mapcode National: GBR B2.S6R3

Mapcode Global: VH76G.5VHF

Entry Name: Cnwclas Castle

Scheduled Date:

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 1938

Cadw Legacy ID: RD085

Schedule Class: Defence

Category: Castle

Period: Medieval

County: Powys

Community: Beguildy (Bugeildy)

Traditional County: Radnorshire


The monument comprises the remains of a castle of the Mortimer family on a prominent isolated hilltop on the southern side of the Teme Valley. The highest point of the summit is occupied by the buried lower stages of a compact masonry Inner Ward measuring c.23m WSW to ENE by c.40m with small rounded turrets or towers some 6m in diameter at each of its angles, that at the western angle possibly being slightly larger. Exposed footings of eroded shale slabs represent sections of the battered bases of the NE and SE walls, the curved eastern flank of the S tower and parts of the W tower. It is unclear whether the Inner Ward formerly extended into what is now a large and deep quarry cut immediately below the SW wall. This is more likely to be the result of 19th century railway ballast extraction than a medieval defensive ditch, which is conspicuously absent around the rest of the masonry. The Inner Ward is otherwise defended only by steep natural slopes to the NW and a weak curving scarp running from S of the quarry to a point north of the north tower, forming a level Outer Ward no more than 20m across. The natural slope to the NW of the Inner Ward is topped by a low bank up to 1m high, closing off the approach from the lower ground. The section running from the N tower to sheer outcrops at the northern edge of the summit may contain a wall base and possibly a central entrance gap, and is likely to be contemporary with the Inner Ward. A short section of low bank runs SW from the quarry to the present route onto the summit from the village. The only internal feature is footprint of a former post-medieval field barn built against the base of the NE curtain wall.

The steep break of slope around the entire lower summit of the hill has been enhanced by scarping to form a large outer enclosure measuring at least c.170m across, its interior falling gently from north-west to south-east. There are a number of natural scarps and platforms in the interior but no clear evidence of buildings. This enclosure has been interpreted as the defences of an Iron Age hillfort, a large outer bailey or the site of a short-lived, disputed and still un-located medieval borough but there is no firm supporting evidence for any of these.

Knucklas is first mentioned as a Mortimer castle in 1248 and again in 1262 when taken by Llywelyn ap Grufudd, but was regarrisoned by the Mortimers in 1282. It was last mentioned as a castle in 1316 and seems to have been inactive by the turn of the 15th century, later references noting only its site. It was almost certainly built to administer nearby Knucklas Forest and is likely to have performed a second function as an occasional country residence and hunting seat, deliberately sited in a conspicuous position facing disputed territory in Ceri, across the Teme. The site was apparently quarried for stone when the adjacent Cambrian Railway was cut through in the 19th century.

The monument is of national importance for its potential to enhance our knowledge of medieval military and domestic architecture, notably a series of prominently sited mid-13th century Mortimer castles in the central Marches, with which it shares group value. It is likely to retain substantial buried structural remains and associated deposits, containing artefactual and environmental evidence which will provide evidence for its construction, development and contemporary material culture and environment. It forms an important element within the wider medieval landscape of the central Marches.

The scheduled area comprises the remains described and areas around them within which related evidence may be expected to survive.

Source: Cadw

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