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.
not join me at other Lost Welsh Castles next Spring?
Please see the information on tours at Scholarly
Paul Martin Remfry