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Welsh Border country and the Marches of Wales:

The Welsh border lands (the Welsh Marches) are home to the Offa's Dyke Trail, one of the great walks in the United Kingdom. But the Welsh Borders offer more than a long distance path, much more.

Click on the towns to find cottage accommodation in the Welsh Borders holiday cottages in prestatyn and vicinity holiday cottages in Flint and vicinity Flint Castle holiday cottages in World's End near Wrexham holiday cottages in Llangollen and vicinity holiday cottages in Oswestry and vicinity holiday cottages in Welshpool and vicinity holiday cottages in Montgomery and vicinity Montgomery Castle Dolforwyn Castle Clun Castle Knighton Castle Brecon Castle holiday cottages in Bishop's Castle and vicinity holiday cottages in Clun and vicinity holiday cottages in Knighton and vicinity holiday cottages in Hereford and vicinity holiday cottages in Hay on Wye and vicinity holiday cottages in Brecon and vicinity holiday cottages in Abergavenny and vicinity Abergavenny Castle Chepstow Castle holiday cottages in Monmouthshire holiday cottages in Coleford and vicinity holiday cottages in Itton near Chepstow  and vicinity holiday cottages in Ludlow and vicinity holiday cottages in Presteigne and vicinity holiday cottages in Shropshire and vicinity Powis Castle Castell Dinas Bran Chirk Castle The border counties of England and Wales have some of the most beautiful countryside in the United Kingdom with the added bonus of being rich in fascinating history and culture, making the border counties ideal for a holiday in Wales. Battles have been fought over these lands for thousands of years as evidenced by the abundance of castles, ancient forts, and other historic sites.

Many of the castles owe their existence to the decision of William the Conqueror, after his conquest of England in 1066, to grant land along the Welsh border country to his fellow Normans. These men became the Marcher Lords  who built the chain of castles that acted as a buffer between England and the unconquerable Welshmen. The Marcher Lords owed allegiance to the English monarch but had the freedom to administer their feudal estates as they saw fit. However It was not an easy life for the Marcher lords as the Welsh Princes continued to wage war against the English for a great part of the next three hundred years.

From Flint Castle in the north to Chepstow Castle in the south ( built  in 1067, less than a year after William the Conqueror was crowned King of England ) the Welsh border castles are still to this day fantastic examples of mediaeval architecture. Not surprisingly some of the castles are little more than ruins, but many still stand proudly in their strategic positions on this turbulent landscape.

The Castles :

Flint Castle, in Flintshire on the northern coast, is one of King Edward 1's 14th Century "iron ring" of castles, and guards the Dee estuary and the most northern route from Wales to England.

Chirk Castle, Chirk, Wrexham County. Chirk Castle has been occupied virtually continuously as a castle and stately home for almost 700 years. It was probably built by Roger Mortimer, of the powerful Marcher family, who was granted the area by Edward I after the Welsh defeat in 1282. TIP! If walking the Offa's Dyke Trail you will need to make a small detour here as the Dyke now passes beneath an artificial Lake in the grounds of Chirk Castle.

Castell Dinas Bran, in Llangollen, Denbighshire, towers high above the Dee Valley occupying one of Britain's most spectacular and romantic sites. With it's Arthurian connections some say that the Holy Grail is hidden on the hillside at Dinas Bran.

Powis Castle, in Welshpool, Powys still survives as a captivating example of a military stronghold which was preserved and renewed by continual occupation.

Dolforwyn Castle, Dolforwyn, Powys. Dolforwyn was built by the Welsh Prince, Llywelyn the Last (Llywelyn ap Gruffydd), between 1273-77. It's close proximity to the Anglo Norman town of Montgomery antagonised the English KIng Edward 1 ( BIG MISTAKE ........ Edward 1 was the last person you would want to antagonise !).

Montgomery Castle, Castle Hill, Montgomery, Powys. Montgomery Castle is an impressive stone fortress built on a rocky promontory located high above the town centre of Montgomery. It was originally known as Y Domen and replaced a nearby earlier castle that was initially built under Roger de Montgomery in 1072. It was probably originally built in timber in 1223 but was almost immediately rebuilt in stone and completed by 1234.

Clun Castle, Clun, Shropshire. One of the lesser Marcher castles located on the English side of the border in the small village of Clun.

Knighton Castle, Knighton, Radnorshire, Powys. Built by the Marcher Lord William de Braose in the 12th Century. Llewelyn ap Gruffydd captured Knighton castle during his conquest of the area in 1262 and the castle and town were burned. In 1402, during the Owain Glyndwr rebellion, Knighton castle was again burned and  the Marcher Lord Edmund Mortimer was defeated in a great battle at nearby Pilleth.

Brecon Castle, Brecon, Powys. Brecon Castle, and the priory, were founded by the Norman Lord Bernard de Neufmarche. A walled town grew up around these buildings and that signaled the beginning of the ancient town of Brecon. There may not be a lot to see of the present Castle but the church of Brecon Priory, now a cathedral, and the lovely little market town of Brecon are well worth a visit.

Abergavenny Castle, Abergavenny Monmouthshire. Abergavenny Castle was founded circa 1087 by the Norman lord Hamelin de Ballon, the original castle having a wooden keep built on a steep hillock, which was surrounded by a ditch still visible today. In the late 12th Century the Normans started to rebuild the castle in stone and it is the remains of the Easter, South Western towers and the Great Hall and Gatehouse that can be seen today. A 19th century hunting lodge housing the Abergavenny Museum stands on the original motte. The Castle is notorious as the scene of a terrible act of murder committed by William de Braose Lord of Abergavenny. In the guise of a reconciliation meeting for an earlier killing de Braose had summoned several Welsh leaders to the Castle, but instead of reconciliation all were murdered and their lands seized.

Chepstow Castle, Chepstow, Monmouthshire. Chepstow Castle has a spectacular setting on cliffs above the river Wye close to where it joins the river Severn. It is one of the earliest stone-built castles in Britain - the centre of the medieval Marcher lordship of Chepstow. Built by the Norman Lord William Fitz Osbern from 1067 it is the southernmost of the chain of castles built along the English-Welsh border.

 

 


Please -- click on the pictures below -- for enlarged pictures of the Welsh Borders and the Welsh Marches Wales, UK.
© All pictures copyright Bernard Wellings

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