Published Booklets on Herefordshire Castles

Clifford Castle, 1066 to 1299 (ISBN 1-899376-04-6) [1994] deals with the history of this important site from its founding soon after the Norman conquest to its baronial lords ceased residence in 1299. Clifford was one of the 'Fitz Osbern' castles of 1070, though it soon passed to the Tosnys of Conches in Normandy. By the reign of King Henry II (1154-89) the Cliffords had usurped the Tosny hold on the district and, with the help of the beautiful 'Fair Rosamund', became Marcher barons of high rank. This rise in fortune did not stop later Tosnys trying to claim the castle back. In 1233 this helped lead to the short lived Clifford war when Henry III invaded the district and besieged Clifford castle, forcing its garrison to surrender in just three days. As the last Walter Clifford ended his hectic days during the Barons' War the castle passed to his only surviving daughter, the baroness Lady Matilda Longspey. She seems to have allowed the castle to be used by the Montfortian freebooter, John Giffard, to attack the royalists in the Marches of Wales. Finally Giffard kidnapped the baroness Matilda and forced her to marry him, thus bringing Clifford into the Giffard estates. The extensive castle remains are examined in depth and a surprisingly early chronology is suggested by comparison with another castle built by the Tosny lords of Clifford. The baronial families of the Tosny and Clifford lords are closely examined and a reproduction of an early twelfth century Tosny charter concerning the fee is included.  For more details on the castle follow this link.

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The Mortimers of Wigmore, 1066 to 1181. Part 1: Wigmore Castle (ISBN 1-899376-14-3) [1995] looks in detail at the first three English Mortimers, Roger, Ralph and Hugh (d.1181) and their Norman predecessors. Battle was the middle name of these men. Their violent campaigns in England, Normandy and Wales are closely followed with emphasis on their unique position amongst the Marchers of Wales. Many campaigns were fought by the Mortimers against Welsh princes, English kings and baronial opponents. Hugh Mortimer (d.1181) in fact became so powerful that his lands were totally exempt from royal control after his semi-successful rebellion against King Henry II.

The foundation and design of Wigmore castle by William Fitz Osbern around 1070 is then examined and also the setting up of the associated castellany which later became the Mortimer honour of Wigmore. The castle is then explored and explained with many photos taken before the recent English Heritage repair work at the site. Two possible 'siege castles' are also described with reference to the present stately pile and its probable construction dates.

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Longtown Castle, 1048 to 1241 (ISBN 1-899376-29-1) [1997] deals with the early history of the lordship from Roman days and the castle otherwise known as Ewias Lacy. Also chronicled is the possible foundation of the castle as a fortress by Earl Harold (k.1066) and the Lacy dispute with the great Pain Fitz John and his descendants during the anarchy of King Stephen's reign (1135-54). The story ends with the death of Walter Lacy in poverty during February 1241.

Pont Hendre, probably the original 'main' castle of Ewias Lacy barony, is examined first with the aid of pictures and a plan. The next exploration is of Longtown castle with its great early 13th century round tower, two older walled baileys and earlier possibly Saxon earthworks. An examination of the penetration of the Welsh cantref of Ewias is undertaken and the relationship between Longtown and the other castles of the district is discussed.

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The Castles of Ewias Lacy, 1048 to 1403 (ISBN 1-899376-37-2) [1998] continues the story of the barony of Longtown, covering the later history of the owning families of Geneville, Verdun, Furnival and Berghersh down to the castle's last defensive mention in 1403. The division of the barony is examined in detail and the power politics of late thirteenth century England explored. This is followed by an in depth examination of the castles of Walterstone, Rowlestone, Llancillo and Howton in Ewias commote which were in their time subsidiary to Longtown. The owning families of these sites are also looked at, though their history is rather sketchy.

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Kington and Huntington Castles, 1066 to 1298 (ISBN 1-899376-30-5) [1997] deals with the history of the Ports of Kington until they revolted and lost their Marcher barony in 1172. Then follows the Young King's war in which Adam Port helped the Scottish army in their invasion of Northern England. From then on the history of this little '5 castle barony' continues with their Braose, Clifford and Bohun successors who eventually repositioned the castle at nearby Huntington after its destruction by King John in 1216. The new Huntington castle proved to be a bone of contention with the Welsh in the latter 13th century and also between several contending heiresses and their husbands. Much attention is paid to the activities of the earls of Hereford, Gloucester and Roger Mortimer of Wigmore and their struggles for control of this castle and district in the bloody Barons' War of 1263-66.

Both castle sites are thoroughly examined and some comment is made on the contending boroughs of Old and New Kington and Huntington. Unpublished material from the Huntington excavations of the 1970's is revealed for the first time in print together with some Victorian pictures of the site.  For more details of the castle follow this link.

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The Herefordshire Beacon, 1048 to 1154 (ISBN 1-899376-32-1) [1996] examines in detail the history of this area of south-eastern Herefordshire for clues as to the building of this much neglected castle. This covers the careers of the early earls of Hereford from 1041 to 1155, the earl of Worcester from 1138 to 1153 and the history of the Malvern Hills up to the end of the thirteenth century.  The layout of the prehistoric British Camp upon the Herefordshire Beacon is also examined. The conclusion of the historical research is that the castle was constructed most likely by Earl Harold Godwinson after the battle of Hereford in 1055 and before he became of king of England in 1066. Information is also uncovered to suggest that the castle was destroyed in 1155.  The archaeology of the ancient British Camp and the later castle with its elongated causeway entrance are both covered in depth.

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Brampton Bryan Castle, 1066 to 1309, and the Civil War, 1642 to 1646 (ISBN 1-899376-33-X) [1997] covers the foundation of Wigmore lordship and the history of the castle's owning family, the Bramptons. Surprisingly the castle was not named after one of the many Brian Bramptons who held this sub-lordship, but from the Domesday lord of the vill, Richard Barre; the castle and lordship originally being known as Brampton Barre to distinguish it from several other Bramptons in the area. The Bramptons of Brampton Bryan were always in the thick of most wars in the twelfth and thirteenth century as the major honorial barons of the Mortimers of Wigmore. The first Brian Brampton of the 13th century was a veritable old warhorse, finally being ordered home by Edward I from the muster at Worcester as too old to go into battle against Llywelyn ap Gruffydd in 1277. By this time Brian had been campaigning for at least sixty years and must have been in his 80's! Indeed he appears to have been fatally ill in the November of 1262, only a Welsh uprising in Maelienydd raising him from what appeared to be his deathbed for another fifteen years of campaigning which included the battles of Abergavenny, Clun and Evesham.

The present castle site is examined in detail and unusual deductions are made concerning both the early origin and present structure of the remains.

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Richard's Castle, 1048 to 1219 (ISBN 1-899376-34-8) [1997] covers the foundation and development of this castlery in the pre-Norman period. The family history of Richard Fitz Scrope from 1048 is then taken through the many shifts and changes of political fortune to the extinction of its first Mortimer lord in 1219. Particular emphasis is placed upon the wars of the Anarchy of King Stephen when an unusual division of the lordship seems to have been made by a defeated lord of the barony. As a result, after his death, the castle passed to Hugh Say his brother-in-law, who also appears to have taken over the Scrope arms. From Hugh the castle passed to his son, Hugh, who was defeated and probably killed at the great battle of Radnor in 1196. The castle then passed rapidly to each of Hugh's daughter's three husbands in turn, the last of whom was Robert Mortimer of Essex.

The motte and bailey castle with later stonework remains are examined thoroughly in relation to the excavations carried out in the 1960's and a new chronology for the site is suggested.

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Wilton Castle, 1066 to 1646 (ISBN 1-899376-35-6) [1998]. This forgotten castle of Herefordshire, still standing mostly to battlement height, remains a monument to its forgotten lords. Examined are the almost forgotten Longchamps of Wilton, who in their time provided bailiffs of Normandy, chancellors of England, sheriffs of Hereford and enemies of King John. They were succeeded by the families of Cantilupe and Grey who between them built up a powerbase in Wales. Matilda Grey, nee Cantilupe, stood up in court in 1292 and lied through her teeth to the king that the castle had been built by her Longchamp ancestors in the days of Edward the Confessor (1042-1066). In fact the castle could not have been built before 1154 and certainly the 'barony' never held the Marcher rights Lady Matilda claimed for it!

The extensive 12th and 13th century remains of Wilton castle are examined at length and its building and development discussed with the aid of many plans and photographs.

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The Nine Castles of Burford Barony, 1048 to 1308 (ISBN 1-899376-39-9) [1999] continues the story of Richard's Castle from 1219 to 1308 and then looks at the other castles appurtenant to the barony, viz, Byton motte and bailey, Combe ringwork and bailey, the pathetic Discoed 'motte', Homme motte, Presteigne motte and bailey, Rochford motte, Stanage motte and bailey, Stapleton castle and Burford/Tenbury Wells motte and bailey. The history of these sites and their owning families are examined as well as the castle remains.

Opposite is Stapleton castle showing the Elizabethan house standing over the remains of the twelfth century masonry castle which can still be made out under the tree. Much of the rectangular tower to the left of the photograph has recently collapsed.

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Pembridge Castle, 1090 to 1646 (ISBN 1-899376-45-3) chronicles the Pembridge family of Herefordshire from their first historical mention around 1090 until 1346.  The brief history of the castle is then continued until its rather abortive Civil War career was ended in 1646.  The castle ruins consisting of twin-towered gatehouse, round keep, hall block, chapel and two turrets are described in detail with several plans and many photographs.

 

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Wigmore Castle Tourist Guide (ISBN 1-899376-43-7) [2000] covers the history of Wigmore castle from its foundation by the earls of Hereford about the year 1070 until its excavation by English Heritage at the end of this century. Included is the full story of the Mortimer family of Wigmore and the many actions fought for control of Wigmoreland.

The book concludes with a description of the ruins and a guide to the newly exposed remains. Many photographs, maps, tables and plans help to explain the complex development of the ruins.

An updated version of Wigmore Castle Tourist Guide and the Family of Mortimer (ISBN 1-899376-43-7) is now available as an A4 sized book of 74 pages.  The revised book includes new photographs of the fortress after the English Heritage clearances as well as an index.  It can be bought for £19.95 through the PayPal basket below. 

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