The castle, also known as Tomen Allt as it lies in Coed yr Allt, is set on a prominent hill commanding views all around, but particularly to the south and west.  Its identification is secured by it being within the township of Bydyfon in Llanfyllin parish.  To the north-west of Bodyddon castle is Tomen y Cefnlloer and north of both lie the mottes of the Tanat valley.  The castle's only apparent foray into historical record came in 1257.  Then it was recorded in the Annales Cambriae, this version probably written at Strata Florida abbey, that:

In these days some noblemen from the household of the Lord Llywelyn ap Gruffydd before Palm Sunday [before 1 April 1257] manfully burned the town of Montgomery called Baldwin's castle and Baldwin and the burgesses and many others with their women and children were killed by fire and the sword...  And then before 27 May (Pentecost) Llywelyn ap Gruffydd with a multitude of strong men besieged Bodyddon (Bodedon) castle, and he disbanded the garrison with their arms when they freely handed over the castle which he then burned to the ground.  Many English and many Welsh from the parts favouring the English, were killed at Cymerau in Ystrad Tywi on the day before Trinity (29 May).

According to the Bruts Llywelyn attacked Powys taking it all but Powis castle and that ‘the castle of Bodyddon he destroyed'.  From this it is clear that Llywelyn's forces were attacking in Powys in the Spring of 1257 and that Llywelyn himself took Bodyddon castle after what appears to be a short siege.  The fate of the castle could well have been burning as a recent survey of the site claimed to have found ‘remains of a burnt layer'.

The site, at the summit of the hill, consists of a very steep sided motte about 140' in basal diameter with a summit about 40' across.  This stands some 30' high.  Surrounding it is a fine ditch about 40' across and up to 15' deep.  This in turn is surrounded by a fine counterscarp.  Stretching from the north-west to the south-east is a denuded second rampart and slight ditch covering the northern half of the site.  No doubt this was built to cover the easiest approach to the castle.  Despite claims of a bailey to the south-east there is no trace of it.

Claims are solidly made that this was never more than an earth and timber castle.  However a brief scramble up the motte reveals that it is choked with stone, while an apparent trench cut some 2' into the summit of the motte has revealed nothing but more loose rubble.  This in itself looks rather like the summit of the motte at Nevern before excavation.  This was noted as long ago as 1984 as traces of a round tower occupying the motte top, but was generally ignored until excavation proved otherwise some 20 years later.  The steepness of the motte at Bodyddon would suggest that much of the interior of this motte, much like at Camlais some 60 miles to the south and somewhat like Burton in Lonsdale.

Why not join me at other Lost Welsh Castles next Spring?  Please see the information on tours at Scholarly Sojourns.


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