Ancient Monuments

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Montgomery Castle

A Scheduled Monument in Montgomery (Trefaldwyn), Powys

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Latitude: 52.5632 / 52°33'47"N

Longitude: -3.1502 / 3°9'0"W

OS Eastings: 322129

OS Northings: 296777

OS Grid: SO221967

Mapcode National: GBR B0.CM2B

Mapcode Global: WH7B2.LT3T

Entry Name: Montgomery Castle

Scheduled Date:

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 1976

Cadw Legacy ID: MG022

Schedule Class: Defence

Category: Castle

Period: Medieval

County: Powys

Community: Montgomery (Trefaldwyn)

Built-Up Area: Montgomery

Traditional County: Montgomeryshire


This monument comprises the remains of a medieval castle begun in 1223 by Henry III. Situated on an entirely new site atop a high ridge overlooking the Severn Valley, it was intended to replace the nearby earth and timber fortification of Hen Domen.

The castle outworks themselves are made up of three elements – an outer D-shaped earth mound, originally revetted with masonry; a rectangular barbican with earth banks originally carrying palisades on its flanks; and a rock boss to the rear. A rock-cut ditch 13.7m wide and originally 6.7m deep separates the outworks and middle ward. Originally constructed in timber, the defences of the middle ward were not rebuilt in stone until 1251-53. The medieval arrangements of the internal buildings have largely been obliterated by the 16th and 17th century building activity. However, it is reasonable to assume that the medieval soldiers’ lodgings, as well as service buildings to meet the needs of the wider castle community, as distinct from the king or the lord of the castle and his immediate associates housed in the inner ward.

At the entrance to the middle ward are the slight remains of the two rounded towers of the outer gatehouse, built in 1251-53 together with the adjoining stone curtain wall. Behind the east curtain, at the foot of the slope, is a 14th century kiln house, where grain was dried after being harvested. During the 16th century, the west and south sides of the middle ward were lined with lodgings. The scant remains of the foundations of one sizeable building, perhaps the residence of Bishop Rowland Lee, can be seen inside the west curtain. The masonry-lined pit in the north-west corner of the ward indicates the site of its latrine. Bishop Lee’s building was demolished when Edward Herbert’s house was built in the 17th century.

The inner ward was constructed in stone from the outset, the buildings of the inner ward were intended to house the king and his immediate household when in residence. The main apartments were in the large twin-towered inner gatehouse, with a great chamber, private rooms and a chapel. The castle well was in the adjacent D-shaped tower, and the ward would have contained a timber hall, with a timber bakehouse and kitchen. The rock-cut inner ditch measuring 13.7m wide and 6.1m deep with near vertical sides, separates the middle ward and inner ward. The inner gatehouse consists of a gate passage flanked by a pair of three-quarter-round towers, solid in their lower parts and with a rectangular room behind each tower. It was protected by a portcullis and two pairs of heavy doors.

Beyond the gatehouse, on the western side, is the well tower. The well shaft sinks to a depth of 64m. Little survives of the earlier medieval arrangements within the inner ward. The only building which may survive from this early phase consists of two east-west walls, which are more substantial than those of the various later lodgings. These could be the foundations of a timber-framed hall, which would have created a courtyard in the southern part of the ward. Associated with it were a timber bakehouse and kitchen.

In its final phase, the inner ward was lined with a series of lodgings ranged around the curtain wall. These were two-storey timber-framed structures set on light foundation walls of rubble masonry. A typical example can be found behind the entrance to the inner ward, between the gatehouse and the well tower.

This monument is of national importance for its potential to enhance our knowledge of medieval religious practices. The scheduled area comprises the remains described and an area around them within which related evidence may be expected to survive.

Source: Cadw

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