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Llanidloes Castle

In the community of Llanidloes.
In the historic county of Montgomeryshire.
Modern authority of Powys.
Preserved county of Powys.

OS Map Grid Reference: SN95408437
Latitude 52.44781° Longitude -3.54028°

Llanidloes Castle has been described as a certain Timber Castle.

There are no visible remains.


The motte dates from 1280, when Owain de la Pole was granted a charter for a market at Llanidloes. The town was laid out with a rectilinear plan, alongside the Severn. The palisade walls were completed with a motte forming the south side (town walls could often be defended by a strong fortification - ie Caernarvon). The motte is 30m across and 3m high, with an oval bailey 60m x 50m, now obscured underneath a health centre. Nearby streams indicate that the town ditch may have been waterfilled. (Dan Mersey, 2009, Castle of Wales website)

Supposed site of Llanidloes castle (motte and bailey) (O'Neil, B H St J, 1934). The natural topography of site dictates that SE end of bailey would be 3 to 4m higher than the top of the motte which must make this siting dubious. See also . Watching brief 1996 failed to reveal any archaeological features (Gibson, A M 1996c). (Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust HER)

A motte-and-bailey castle, perhaps constructed to defend the new town, is claimed for the south end of China Street and its layout has been determined in some detail. The evidence is circumstantial if reasonably convincing: significant changes in ground height, the loop described by Smithfield Street, the local topography and the name Mount Street. Against this, no traces were recognised during a watching brief in the area of the putative bailey a few years ago, and the bailey would have been at a higher level than the motte. Nor are there any documented references to it. (Silvester 1992)

Very much damaged in 1933 and completely destroyed by 1962. More recent reports from Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust cast doubt on this site but these seem to underestimate the damage done to the site. A statement that 'The natural topography of site dictates that SE end of bailey would be 3 to 4m higher than the top of the motte which must make this siting dubious' seems to be a statement by an individual who does not understand the diversity of castle forms (c.f. Arundel, Sussex) rather than evidence of an inaccurate report by the fine scholar B.H.St J. O'Neil.
Much of Dan Mersey description, the source of which is unclear, is fanciful extension of received wisdom about castles and medieval defences and the dating of this motte from 1280 must be challenged. It certainly dates from the mid C12 at the latest and possibly earlier. Llanidleos and its church also presumably date from before the C12 although the presence of a castle may have helped the development of the community to the point where an official market charter was worth applying for. The charter was actually a confirmation of existing practice as Edward I was actively re-establishing royal rights - somewhat lost during the long reign of Henry III - particularly in Wales.
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This record last updated before 1 February 2016