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New Radnor Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Maes Hyfaidd; Maes Hyvaidd

In the community of New Radnor.
In the historic county of Radnorshire.
Modern authority of Powys.
Preserved county of Powys.

OS Map Grid Reference: SO21126102
Latitude 52.24153° Longitude -3.15577°

New Radnor Castle has been described as a certain Timber Castle, and also as a certain Masonry Castle.

There are masonry footings remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.

Description

The castle at New Radnor was established in the mid thirteenth century. The surviving remains include an oval embanked enclosure, 50m by 30m, formed from a natural hillock. It is divided by double ditches from a second enclosure to the northwest, 154m by 60m, which is defined by banks and ditches. Both enclosures contain footings of masonry structures and are integrated into the town walls (Nprn303340) of New Radnor (Nprn33219). The castle was ruinous by the early sixteenth century. (Coflein)

Motte (truncated and scarped hill) topped by banked oval enclosure containing building foundations. Rectangular earthwork on the south side of the motte with one sub-division; less intelligible earthworks abut the inner face of the ring bank on the north west: some disturbance of the earthworks in recent times. Two massive ditches to north and west, the outer with two causeways across in. Rectangular bailey 154m by 60m on north west side known as Bailigas (Beili Glas). An ill-defined mounded platform lies adjacent to the outer motte ditch. Traces of rectangular structure against NW defences of the bailey. Bailey bank cut by later earthworks; faint ridge and furrow can be seen on APs within the bailey. A short stretch of bank beyond the northern corner of the bailey is assumed to be part of the defences and is scheduled: it may be a natural scarp. A double-banked trackway runs around the outer north-western edge of the bailey. (PRN 19120). The presumed original approach from the west had been destroyed by a later quarry (PRN 19121). Mentioned by Musson and Spurgeon as likely site for Dark Age fortified site: castle banks could be an extension of an earlier rectangular enclosure? (Musson, C R and Spurgeon, C J 1988, 107). The first castle, a wooden keep, was built by Saxon Harold in 1064 in the course of his march north to confront Gruffudd ap Llywelyn at Rhuddlan (Gregory, D, 1994, 46). New Radnor recorded as held by the king in Domesday; in 12th century held by Philip de Breos; captured in 1196 by Rhys ap Gruffydd, refurbished by William de Breos and occupied by Llywelyn ab Iorweth, his ally; subsequently captured and destroyed by King John 1216. Sacked by Llywelyn in 1231; rebuilt by the Earl of Cornwall 1233 and destroyed by Llywelyn ap Gruffydd and Simon de Montfort 1264. Castle and town sacked by Owain Glyndwr in 1401. In 1535 the castle was reported to have been beyond repair, but its gatehouse was intact enough to be converted into a prison (Gregory, D, 1994, 46). Part of the keep was visible in 1815 and a length of curtain wall was said to have survived into the mid 19th century. Remains of masonry were dug up during 18th and 19th centuries; in 1864 extensive excavations revaled foundation walls, arched doorways and windows, and a well in the castle dungeon. (Silvester, R J 1994a). (Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust HER)

New Radnor Castle has suffered a turbulent history. A castle was first recorded at Radnor in Domesday as a possession of the crown and again later during the 12th century. It is not always clear however whether the references are to Old Radnor or New Radnor castles. During the 12th century Radnor castle was held by Phillip de Breose but was captured in 1196 by Rhys ap Gruffydd and later occupied by Llywelyn ab Iorweth. In 1216 it was captured and partially destroyed by King John. The New Radnor castle was in use during the 13th century as it was sacked by Llywelyn in 1231. The earl of Cornwall then rebuilt it in 1233 before it was again damaged by Llywelyn ap Gruffudd and Simon de Montfort in 1264. The castle and town were sacked again in 1401 by Owain Glyndwr.
The castle today, although much damaged over the years, consists of a motte topped by a banked oval enclosure containing the foundations of buildings including a keep. Part of the keep survived as late as 1815 and a length of curtain wall still stood in the mid 19th century. To the north-west of the motte is a rectangular bailey known as Bailigas (Beili Glas). Traces of a rectangular structure can be seen against the north-west defences of the bailey. The bailey is cut by later earthworks, including the remains of ridge and furrow, showing the area was cultivated during medieval or later periods.
The original approach to the castle was from the west but this has been destroyed by quarrying. (Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust)
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

Data >
Coflein   County HER           Historic Wales
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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The bibliography owes much to various bibliographies produced by John Kenyon for the Council for British Archaeology, the Castle Studies Group and others.
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This record last updated on Saturday, September 20, 2014


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