Ancient Monuments

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Pain's Castle

A Scheduled Monument in Painscastle (Castell-paen), Powys

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Latitude: 52.1074 / 52°6'26"N

Longitude: -3.2188 / 3°13'7"W

OS Eastings: 316624

OS Northings: 246153

OS Grid: SO166461

Mapcode National: GBR YX.987N

Mapcode Global: VH6B9.5969

Entry Name: Pain's Castle

Scheduled Date:

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 1902

Cadw Legacy ID: RD006

Schedule Class: Defence

Category: Motte & Bailey

Period: Medieval

County: Powys

Community: Painscastle (Castell-paen)

Traditional County: Radnorshire


The monument comprises the remains of a motte and bailey castle, a military stronghold built during the medieval period. A motte and bailey castle comprises a large conical or pyramidal mound of soil or stone (the motte) surrounded by, or adjacent to, one or more embanked enclosures (the bailey). Both may be surrounded by wet or dry ditches and could be further strengthened with palisades, revetments, and/or a tower on top of the motte. Pain’s Castle, also known as Castle Matilda, is a large, turf-covered motte and bailey castle with the motte placed at the southern end of a roughly rectangular bailey. The motte is surrounded by its own ditch, which in turn is connected to the ditch around the bailey. The motte reaches a height of c.11m above the ditch on the south side and 6.5m on the north, while its irregular summit, which may well conceal traces of masonry, measures c.18m north-south by c.15m. A break in the north-west side of the motte ditch appears to lead into the bailey and more specifically, to a circular area which projects into the main bailey ditch, and may represent the position of a round tower. Around the bailey ditch lip there are signs of a curtain wall in the form of a continuous low mound beneath the turf. Low mounds on the east side of the bailey probably represent the sites of domestic buildings. The bailey ditch has a maximum depth of c.6m on the north side. The outer bank, which runs around both motte and bailey, rises c.4.5m above the ditch bottom; on the east and north-east it has been damaged by later activity. The castle is thought to have been built by Pain FitzJohn in c.1130, and withstood a siege by the forces of Powys in 1198. Modifications in stone are attested from 1231 onwards, but the castle was destroyed by Owain Glyndwr in 1401. A slighter outer enclosure around the west and north of the castle may represent the position of an associated borough.

The monument is of national importance for its potential to enhance our knowledge of medieval defensive organisation. The well-preserved monument forms an important element within the wider medieval context and the structure itself may be expected to contain archaeological information relating to chronology, building techniques and functional detail.

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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