Clun Castle

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Motte), and also as a Certain Masonry Castle

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameClun Castle
Alternative NamesColunwy; Clone; Clune; Clunne
Historic CountryShropshire
Modern AuthorityShropshire
1974 AuthorityShropshire
Civil ParishClun

Clun Castle with its second bailey and medieval garden earthworks is one of the finest examples of its class in the county. The castle earthworks will contain valuable archaeological evidence concerning their method of construction and the nature and periods of the castle's occupation. The substantial ruined buildings which survive on the motte will contain significant details relating to the dating and function of Clun Castle and to the development of castle architecture more widely. The earthworks on the west bank of the River Clun are rare examples of late medieval gardens. They survive in good condition and provide valuable information both for the layout of individual garden features relative to each other and relative to the castle, the setting for which they provided. As they are waterlogged, they will provide rare evidence for the plants they contained, in the organic deposits in the bases of the ditches. The site, taken as a whole, also illustrates, particularly, how water was used both for practical and decorative purposes. Environmental material relating to the landscape in which the monument was constructed will be preserved sealed on the old land surface beneath the ramparts and in the ditch fills. The monument includes the earthwork and masonry remains of Clun Castle motte and bailey and a series of water management earthworks situated adjacent to the River Clun below the confluence of the River Clun with the River Unk. The motte and its two baileys occupy a small but strategically strong prominence of high ground contained around the west and south sides within a meander of the River Clun. The castle was the seat of the Honour of Clun, a border barony, and is believed to have been founded between 1090 and 1110 by the Norman knight Picot de Say who fought with William the Conqueror in 1066

The castle buildings were originally of timber but these were destroyed by fire in 1196 when the castle fell to the Welsh Prince Rese, though by 1233 the castle had been rebuilt and withstood a second attack by the Welsh. In the second half of the 13th century the castle was rebuilt in stone by the Fitz Alan family. At its greatest extent it included inner and outer baileys with tower and keep, domestic buildings, a water garden and fishpond and a bridge linking the two baileys. By 1300 Clun was no longer a permanent residence, the Fitz Alans having moved to Arundel Castle in Sussex. Clun Castle, however, continued to function as a centre for the administration of the border barony and as a hunting lodge until its desertion by 1540. The castle motte lies in the north west quarter of the site with its two baileys to the east and south east. The motte has been created from a natural prominence, rather than built up. On the west side the site is protected by the river and the steep scarp slope of the hill which has been artificially steepened to enhance its defensive strength. Around the remaining sides a ditch has been cut to isolate a portion of the hill summit so forming the motte. At its base it measures some 80m north to south by 76m east to west rising 12m from the bottom of the ditch to a summit 50m by 40m. On the summit are the ruins of the castle keep: a fragment of the western curtain wall and an impressive late 13th century great tower. The latter stands 28m high built into the north face of the motte. It appears to have been built for prestige rather than defence as its position on the side of the motte makes it vulnerable to assault by undermining. It originally contained well-appointed chambers on three floors over undercrofts. An entrance to the tower in the west wall shows similar lack of regard for security, facing outwards rather than inwards towards the motte summit. The larger bailey lies to the immediate south east of the motte, separated from it by a substantial ditch 10m wide, except at its north western corner where a causeway allows access to the motte. The ditch continues around the north and east sides of the bailey. Along the south west the natural hillslope and river provide defence, the hillslope being cut back to increase the steepness of the scarp and create a berm averaging 4m wide towards the base of the slope. The level plateau-like summit of the bailey is roughly triangular in plan with dimensions of 80m north west to south east by 40m transversely. There are traces of an inner bank 0.7m high running along the eastern edge of the bailey. To the north of this enclosure and linked to it by a causeway is the second smaller bailey. It lies at a slightly lower level than the former, its upper surface being some 8m above the base of the ditch. This small roughly rectangular enclosure has internal dimensions of 42m east to west by 40m north to south. An engraving by Samuel and Nathaniel Buck in 1731 shows that a court house was situated on this bailey. The court house was demolished in 1789 when Clun Town Hall was built. To the north of this bailey and of the motte are the remains of a strong bank. It runs for some 80m curving around the base of the bailey and motte, averages 8m wide and stands up to 3.6m high. To the north west of this bank the natural prominence from which most of the castle earthworks have been created continues as a flat topped spur running to the east of and parallel to the river course. After approximately 60m the western scarp wraps around to the east to form the northern end of the prominence, continuing for approximately 30m as a low scarp up to 1.3m high before ending on the rising ground to the east. The area between this northern extremity and the castle earthworks themselves is hollowed to an average depth of 2.5m forming a flat bottomed depression measuring some 60m north west to south east by 60m transversely. Although now dry this feature may have originally contained water in the form of a small ornamental mere or fishpond. To the west of the castle, on the west bank of the River Clun, are a series of linear earthworks believed to be the remains of garden features associated with the castle. The earthworks appear to be designed to control and manage water. At their southern extent a well defined north east facing scarp up to 3.2m high curves from the river towards the north west for 160m before turning to the west and fading out towards the modern roadway. To the east of this scarp and parallel to it, is a second, south facing, scarp 1.2m high forming the eastern side of a broad channel 6m wide. Some 80m along this channel and adjoining its north side is a sub-circular mound or platform 14m in diameter and up to 0.5m high. The central portion of this is hollowed to a depth of 0.2m and may represent the site of a building. To the north west of this feature the main channel continues bounded on its east side by a low bank. Between this and the river are a series of shallow channels up to 1.5m wide and 0.3m deep arranged in a rectangular pattern. These are bounded along their northern side by a bank with a channel 6m wide and 0.5m deep parallel to it on its north side. Further north again a roughly square ditched enclosure can be recognised. This enclosure, the full extent of which is visible on aerial photographs of the area, is orientated roughly north to south and has sides of 60m. It is crossed by a modern field drain and hedge which cuts diagonally through it north west to south east. Differential management of the two fields has resulted in the southern half, which lies in undisturbed permanent pasture, being better preserved than the northern portion. Even so substantial buried remains still survive in the northern part of this feature. The southern part of the enclosure is bounded by a well defined shallow ditch 5m wide and 0.5m deep. To the north of the hedgeline the ditch remains visible as a very slight earthwork. To the north east of the enclosure a shallow plough- spread scarp curves north towards the river. It may represent the edge of a shallow mere which would have lain in the angle of the river supplying water to the channel system to the south through a system of sluices. (Scheduling Report)

A castle was constructed at Clun on a natural spur in the bend of the river some time between 1086 and 1140 (Renn 1973). This castle was probably a timber motte and bailey, as it was reduced to ashes by the forces of Prince Rhys in 1196 and subsequently rebuilt in stone (Eyton 1869; Rowley 1986, 112). In its final form it consisted of a motte with two baileys. The entrance to the town was probably through the southern bailey. An extent of 1272 notes that the castle was small but competently built (Eyton 1860). At this period the tower on the motte needed leading and the bridge linking it to the bailey was in need of repair. The bailey itself was surrounded by a ditch with a gate and a partly constructed wall. Within the bailey were a grange, stable and a bakery all in need of repair (Morriss 1993). The present Great Tower is a later addition and probably dates to the 14th century (Morriss 1994, 43; Remfrey 1994a, 17). An earlier keep on the site may be represented by the masonry on a slight ridge above the bailey entrance to the west of the Great Tower (Remfrey 1994a, 15). In 1440 the inquisition post mortem of Beatrice, Countess of Arundel mentions a chapel, a well, a barbican with a great chamber, a newly built great house, a castle gate, a great grange, gardens within the bailey as well as a number of other buildings (Morriss 1993). The fishponds and pleasuance stood outside the bailey, across the river, to the west of the castle. The pleasuance or pleasure house would have stood within a square moated enclosure and would have consisted of one or more pavilions ranged around a central formal garden (Watson and Musson 1993). By the mid-16th century the castle was ruinous (Anon 1881) and it does not seem to have been garrisoned during the Civil War (Morriss 1993). It would seem that the castle lost its defensive function by the end of the middle ages but the last reference to it as a residence is in 1654 (Jones 1933). (Dalwood and Bryant 2005)

Gatehouse Comments

Paul Remfry informs Gatehouse that the castle was not burnt by the welsh in 1196, as recorded in the scheduling report. The details of this campaign can be found at http://www.castles99.ukprint.com/Essays/rhysapgruffydd.html

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law

Historic England Scheduled Monument Number
Historic England Listed Building number(s)
Images Of England
Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSO298809
Latitude52.4219207763672
Longitude-3.03315997123718
Eastings329840
Northings280930
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Photograph by Andrew Herrett. All Rights Resereved
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Photograph by Andrew Herrett. All Rights Resereved
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Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
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Photograph by Andrew Herrett. All Rights Resereved
Photograph by Andrew Herrett. All Rights Resereved
Photograph by Andrew Herrett. All Rights Resereved
Photograph by Andrew Herrett. All Rights Resereved
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Photograph by Andrew Herrett. All Rights Resereved
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Photograph by Andrew Herrett. All Rights Resereved
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Books

  • Goodall, John, 2011, The English Castle 1066-1650 (Yale University Press) p. 148, 223, 483
  • Duckers, Peter and Anne, 2006, Castles of Shropshire (Stroud: Tempus) p. 60-4
  • Mercer, E., 2003, English Vernacular Architecture: The Shropshire Experience (Logaston Press)
  • Salter, Mike, 2001 (2edn), The Castles and Moated Mansions of Shropshire (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 38-9
  • Emery, Anthony, 2000, Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales Vol. 2 East Anglia, Central England and Wales (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) p. 476
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 211
  • Remfry, Paul Martin, 1994, Clun Castle 1066 to 1282 (SCS Publishing: Worcestershire)
  • Suppe, Fredrick C., 1994, Military Institutions on the Welsh Marches: Shropshire, A.D. 1066-1300 (Studies in Celtic History XIV, Boydell & Brewer Press)
  • Morriss, R.K., 1993, Clun castle, Shropshire. An interim report (Hereford Archaeology Series report 176)
  • Appleton-Fox, N., 1992, Clun Castle. Watching briefs and minor excavations (Hereford Archaeology Series report 165)
  • Shoesmith, R., 1990, Clun Castle, Shropshire. Recording and excavation works 1990: an interim report (Hereford Archaeology Series report 89)
  • Morriss, R.K., 1990, Clun castle, Shropshire. An outline history (Hereford Archaeology Series report 69)
  • Brown, R.Allen, 1989, Castles from the Air (Cambridge University Press) p. 92-3
  • Jackson, M.J.,1988, Castles of Shropshire (Shrewsbury: Shropshire Libraries) p. 19-21
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 423
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 210
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 148-50 (plan)
  • Pevsner, N., 1958, Buildings of England: Shropshire (London, Penguin) p. 109
  • Toy, Sidney, 1953, The Castles of Great Britain (Heinemann) p. 89-90
  • Oman, Charles W.C., 1926, Castles (1978 edn Beetham House: New York) p. 141-3
  • Thompson, A. Hamilton, 1912, Military Architecture in England during the Middle Ages (OUP) p. 43, 127-9 online copy
  • Evans, Herbert A., 1912, Castles of England and Wales (London) p. 114-18
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
  • Wall (after Downham), 1908, in Page, Wm (ed), VCH Shropshire Vol. 1 p. 393-4
  • Mackenzie, J.D., 1896, Castles of England; their story and structure (New York: Macmillan) Vol. 2 p. 131-3 online copy
  • Clark, G.T., 1884, Mediaeval Military Architecture in England (Wyman and Sons) Vol. 1 p. 402-9 online copy
  • Stackhouse-Acton, Frances, 1868, The Castles and Old Mansions of Shropshire (Shrewsbury) p. 12-13 online copy
  • Eyton, R.W., 1860, Antiquities of Shropshire (London: John Russell Smith) Vol. 11 p. 225- online copy

Antiquarian

Journals

  • Morriss, Richard K., 1993-94, 'Clun Castle Reappaised' Castle Studies Group Newsletter No. 7 p. 23-24 online copy
  • Suppe, Fredrick C., 1989, 'Castle Guard and the Castlery of Clun' Haskins Society Journal Vol. 1 p. 123-34 (Reprinted in Liddiard, R. (ed), 2003, Anglo-Norman Castles (Woodbridge))
  • Hogg, A.H.A. and King, D.J.C., 1967, 'Masonry castles in Wales and the Marches: a list' Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 116 p. 71-132
  • Hogg, A.H.A. and King, D.J.C., 1963, 'Early castles in Wales and the Marches: a preliminary list' Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 112 p. 77-124
  • Brown, R. Allen, 1959, 'A List of Castles, 1154–1216' English Historical Review Vol. 74 p. 249-280 (Reprinted in Brown, R. Allen, 1989, Castles, conquest and charters: collected papers (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 90-121) view online copy (subscription required)
  • 1959, Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 108 p. 154-5
  • Clark, G.T., 1889, 'Contribution towards a complete list of moated mounds or burhs' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 46 p. 197-217 esp. 210 online copy
  • 1888, Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological and Historical Society Vol. 1 p. 15-18
  • Eyton, R.W., 1887, 'The castles of Shropshire' Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological and Historical Society Vol. 10 p. 26
  • Clark, G.T., 1877, The Builder Vol. 35 p. 1047-50 (reprinted in MMA)

Guide Books

  • Munby, J. and Summerson, H., 2002, 'Clun Castle' in Stokesay Castle (London: English Heritage guidebook) (1 page dealing with Clun)

Primary Sources

  • Pipe Rolls 1160-64, 1215 (see Pipe Roll Society for published references)
  • Round, J.H. (ed), 1899, Calendar of Documents Preserved in France (London: HMSO) Vol. 1 (A.D. 918-1206) p. 403-4 no. 1127 online copy, p. no. 1145 [online copy > http://archive.org/stream/cu31924028043663#page/n472/mode/1up]
  • Rickard, John, 2002, The Castle Community. The Personnel of English and Welsh Castles, 1272-1422 (Boydell Press) (lists sources for 1272-1422) p. 412-3

Other

  • Dalwood, H. and Bryant, V. (eds), 2005, The Central Marches Historic Towns Survey 1992-6 Download online copy
  • English Heritage, 1995, Scheduling Papers (Revision, 09/10/1995)
  • Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission, 1983, Scheduled Monument Report on SAM 10436