Hen Domen, Old Montgomery Castle

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Motte)

There are earthwork remains

NameHen Domen, Old Montgomery Castle
Alternative NamesBaldwins Castle; Muntgumeri
Historic CountryMontgomeryshire
Modern AuthorityPowys
1974 AuthorityPowys
CommunityMontgomery

Hen Domen is substantial motte and bailey castle, the motte of which survives approximately 8m in height and 40m in diameter. It is the original site of Montgomery, named in memory of the home town of Roger of Montgomery, the follower of William the Conqueror who was given extensive lands in this area in 1071. The castle was built in what was then waste ground used as a hunting chase, and overlies an abandoned field system (NPRN 275944). It was the centre of a great lordship and a borough was founded outside its gate in the later twelfth century. The new castle and borough of Montgomery were established in 1223 and occupation at Hen Domen came to a close around the end of the century. As a result of excavations from the 1960s until the 1990s, the site is the most extensively excavated timber castle in Britain. The buildings revealed were unexpectedly grand and complex. The focus of the castle was the motte, crowned a towering timber building connected by a bridge over the ditch to a hall within the bailey. The bailey was defended by double ramparts and ditches. Remains of a wooden palisade which stood on the bailey defences were recovered during excavations, and evidence of wooden towers was also uncovered. Many other buildings stood within the bailey in addition to the hall, including a granary and a possible chapel. (Coflein)

Large earthen mound (c. 8 metres high and 40 metres in diameter) with the earthworks of the bailey. The site, which is now partially covered with trees, is the most extensively excavated timber castle in Britain. It was an important location just east of the ford of Rhyd Whyman over the river Severn. Built in the 1070s (not long after the Norman conquest) by Roger, Earl of Shrewsbury who named it Montgomery after his home in Normandy. Roger of Montgomery was lord of large areas of land in Powys and an important noble in the new Norman world

The castle became the property of the crown in 1102 when Robert of Montgomery rebelled against the king. The castle was then held by the de Boulers until 1207. In 1215 the area came under Welsh control and the castle fell into decay although it was briefly reoccupied in 1223 when the area came back under English control and the new castle of Montgomery was built. (Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust HER)

Gatehouse Comments

Although this castle had well over a hundred years use and was the caput of the de Boulers 30 years of extensive excavation found no high status finds and only one coin showing how frugal life, in the welsh marches, was in the C11-C12 even for quite powerful lords. The location of the castle is most interesting. It was built in a green field site (over earlier ridge and furrow), on a low hill overlooking the Severn valley. 1km to the NW lie the remains of a Roman fort, 1.1km to the SSE, on much higher land, is a strong Iron Age fort, Ffridd Faldwyn, close to the site chosen for the New Montgomery castle and 2km E lies Offa's dyke. Occupation, renewal and adaptation of any of these earlier earthworks could, arguably produced a larger, stronger defence for similar effort and the same strategic purpose. Something about the site was special in a manner not obvious from the modern map or from simplistic ideas of military considerations. Possible the reason for this location is to do with a reasonable water supply for horses, something not present at Ffridd Faldwyn.

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

Not Listed

The National Monument Record (Coflein) number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSO213980
Latitude52.5742492675781
Longitude-3.16178011894226
Eastings321370
Northings298020
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved

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Books

  • Goodall, John, 2011, The English Castle 1066-1650 (Yale University Press) p. 148
  • Kenyon, John, 2010, The Medieval Castles of Wales (University of Wales Press) p. 56-57
  • Morgan, Gerald, 2008, Castles in Wales: A Handbook (Talybont: Y Lolfa Cyf.) p. 192-4
  • Salter, Mike, 2001, The Castles of Mid Wales (Malvern) p. 41
  • Pettifer, Adrian, 2000, Welsh Castles, A Guide by Counties (Boydell Press) p. 148
  • < >Higham. R. and Barker. P., 2000, Hen Domen Montgomery: a timber castle on the English-Welsh border (University of Exeter Press. Exeter) < >
  • Higham, R. and Barker, P., 1992, Timber Castles (Batsford)
  • Brown, R.Allen, 1989, Castles from the Air (Cambridge University Press) p. 131-2
  • Renn, D.F., 1988, ‘Hen Domen compared:the evidence for wooden castle buildings in Britain and Normandy’, in A Burl (ed) From Roman Town to Medieval Castle:essays in honour of Philip Barker p. 56-67
  • Barker. P. and Higham. R., 1988. Hen Domen. Montgomery. A Timber Castle on the English-Welsh Border. Excavations 1960-1988. A Summary Report (Worcester: Hen Domen Archaeological Project)
  • Barker, P.A., 1987, ‘Hen Domen revisited’, in Kenyon, John R. and R Avent (eds), Castles in Wales and the Marches: essays in honour of D J Cathcart King (Cardiff: University of Wales Press) p. 51-4
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 299
  • Barker, P.A. and Higham, R., 1982, Hen Domen, Montgomery: a timber castle on the English-Welsh border ((London): Royal Archaeological Institute)
  • Higham, R., 1982, ‘Dating in medieval archaeology: problems and possibilities’, in B. Orme (ed), Problems and case studies in archaeological dating (Exeter: University of Exeter)
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles)
  • Haslam, Richard, 1979, Building of Wales; Powys (University of Wales Press) p. 168-70
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 248
  • Tomley, J.E., c1923, The History of Montgomery p. 4-6
  • RCAHMW, 1911, An inventory of the Ancient Monuments of Montgomeryshire (HMSO) p. 157 no. 803 online copy
  • Eyton, R.W., 1854-60, The Antiquities of Shropshire Vol. 11 p. 117-131
  • Lewis, Samual, 1849, A Topographical Dictionary of Wales online copy

Journals

  • Creighton, O.H., 2010, 'Room with a View: Framing Castles Landscapes' Château Gaillard Vol. 24 p. 37-49 (slight)
  • Speight, Sarah, 2004, ''Religion in the Bailey: Charters, Chapels and the Clergy' Cha^teau Gaillard Vol. 21 p. 271-80
  • Higham, Robert A., 2003, 'The Development of a Timber Castle at Hen Domen, Montgomery (Powys, Wales), c. 1070-1270'' Château Gaillard Vol. 21 p. 113-17
  • Kenyon, John R., 1996, 'Fluctuating Frontiers: Normanno-Welsh Castle Warfare c. 1075 to 1240' Château Gaillard Vol. 17 p. 119-126
  • Thompson, M.W., 1992 Nov, 'A suggested dual origin for keeps'' Fortress: The castles and fortifications quarterly Vol. 15 p. 3-15
  • Harfield, C.G., 1991, 'A Hand-list of Castles Recorded in the Domesday Book' English Historical Review Vol. 106 p. 371-392 view online copy (subscription required) p 371-92
  • Barker, P.A., Sept 1988, ‘Hen Domen’, Current Archaeology Vol. 10.4 p. 137-42
  • Youngs, S.M., Clark, J. and Barry, T., 1986, ‘Medieval Britain and Ireland in 1985’, Medieval Archaeology Vol. 30 p. 197-8 online copy
  • Barker, P.A. and Higham, R A., 1985, ‘Hen Domen, Montgomery (Powys), interim report 1985‘ West Midlands Archaeology Vol. 28 p. 18-19
  • Barker, P.A. and Higham, R A., 1984, ‘Hen Domen: interim report 1984’ Shropshire Newsletter Vol. 20 p. 8-9
  • Youngs, S.M., Clark, J. and Barry, T.B., 1984, 'Medieval Britain and Ireland in 1983’, Medieval Archaeology Vol. 28 p. 265 online copy
  • Barker, P.A. and Higham, R A., 1984, ‘Hen Domen, Montgomery (Powys) (1983)’ Shropshire Newsletter Vol. 19 p. 1-3
  • Barker, P.A., 1983-4 ‘Montgomery, Powys: Hen Domen’ CBA Newsletter and Calendar Vol. 7 p. 137
  • Barker, P.A. and Higham, R A., 1983, ‘Hen Domen, Powys‘ West Midlands Archaeology Vol. 26 p. 93-5
  • Barker, P.A. and Higham, R A., 1983, ‘Hen Domen, Montgomery - 1982: interim report’ Shropshire News Sheet Vol. 17 p. 2-4
  • Barker, P.A., 1982-3 ‘Hen Domen, Montgomery, Powys’ CBA Newsletter and Calendar Vol. 6 p. 159
  • Barker, P.A. and Higham, R.A., 1982, ‘Hen Domen 1981’ Shropshire News Sheet Vol. 15 p. 1-2
  • Barker, P.A., 1981-2 ‘Hen Domen, Montgomery, Powys’ CBA Newsletter and Calendar Vol. 5 p. 148
  • Barker, P.A. and Higham, R.A., 1981, ‘Hen Domen, Montgomery. Excavations of motte-and-bailey castle‘ West Midlands Archaeology Vol. 24 p. 78-81
  • Barker, P.A. 1981. ‘Hen Domen, Montgomery’ The Archaeological Journal Vol. 138 p. 18
  • Youngs, S.M. and Clark, J., 1981, ‘Medieval Britain in 1980’, Medieval Archaeology Vol. 25 p. 204 online copy
  • Barker, P.A. and Higham, R.A., 1980. 'Hen Domen, Montgomery’. Archaeology in Wales Vol. 20 p. 87-9
  • Barker, P.A. and Higham, R.A., 1980, ‘Hen Domen, Montgomery. Excavations of Norman motte-and-bailey ‘ West Midlands Archaeology Vol. 23 p. 92-3
  • Webster, L.E. and Cherry, J., 1980, ‘Medieval Britain in 1979’, Medieval Archaeology Vol. 24 p. 249 online copy
  • Barker, P.A., 1979, ‘Hen Domen, Montgomery, 1979’ West Midlands Archaeological News Sheet Vol. 22 p. 65
  • Barker, P.A., 1979, ‘Hen Domen, Montgomery - 1979. Interim note’ Shropshire News Sheet Vol. 10 p. 2
  • Barker, P.A., 1978-9, ‘Hen Domen’ CBA Newsletter and Calendar Vol. 2 p. 133
  • Barker, P.A., 1978, ‘Hen Domen 1978’ West Midlands Archaeological News Sheet Vol. 21 p. 97
  • Webster, L.E. and Cherry, J., 1978, ‘Medieval Britain in 1977’ Medieval Archaeology Vol. 22 p. 171 online copy
  • Barker, P.A. 1978, ‘Five castle excavations: reports on the Institute’s research project into the origins of the castle in England. Hen Domen, Montgomery, 1966-77’ The Archaeological Journal Vol. 134 p. 101-105
  • Webster, L.E. and Cherry, J., 1977, ‘Medieval Britain in 1976’ Medieval Archaeology Vol. 21 p. 241-2 online copy
  • Barker, P.A., 1977, ‘Hen Domen, Montgomery, 1977’ West Midlands Archaeological News Sheet Vol. 20 p. 83
  • Barker, P.A., 1976. 'Hen Domen’ West Midlands Archaeology Newsletter Vol. 19. p. 66-8
  • Webster, L.E. and Cherry, J., 1976, ‘Medieval Britain in 1975’, Medieval Archaeology Vol. 20 p. 187 online copy
  • Barker, P.A., 1976, ‘Hen Domen, Montgomery: an interim interpretation of the NE sector of the bailey’ West Midlands Archaeological News Sheet Vol. 19 p. 66-8
  • (Barker), 1975, Medieval Archaeology Vol. 19 p. 242 online copy
  • (Barker), 1974, Medieval Archaeology Vol. 18 p. 198 online copy
  • Barker, P.A. 1973. 'Hen Domen’ Archaeology in Wales Vol. 13 p. 54
  • (Barker), 1973, Medieval Archaeology Vol. 17 p. 166 online copy
  • Barker, P.A. 1972. 'Hen Domen’ Archaeology in Wales Vol. 12 p. 39-40
  • (Barker), 1972, Medieval Archaeology Vol. 16 p. 186 online copy
  • (Barker), 1971, Medieval Archaeology Vol. 15 p. 151-2 online copy
  • Barker, P.A. and Lawson, J., 1971, 'A pre-Norman field system at Hen Domen, Montgomery' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 15 p. 58-72
  • Barker, P.A. 1970. 'Hen Domen’ Archaeology in Wales Vol. 10 p. 27
  • (Barker), 1970, Medieval Archaeology Vol. 14 p. 180 online copy
  • Barker, P.A. 1970, 'Excavations at Hen Domen, Montgomeryshire' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 126 p. 177-8
  • Barker, P.A. 1969-70, World Archaeology Vol. 1 p. 221-8
  • Barker, P.A. 1969. 'Hen Domen’ Archaeology in Wales Vol. 9 p. 27
  • Barker, P.A. 1969. 'Hen Domen, Montgomery, Excavations, 1960-67’ Château Gaillard Vol. 3 p. 15-27
  • (Barker), 1969, Medieval Archaeology Vol. 13 p. 242-3 online copy
  • Barker, P.A. 1968. 'Hen Domen’ Archaeology in Wales Vol. 8 p. 25
  • Barker, P.A. 1968, 'Hen Domen, Montgomery' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 125 p. 303
  • (Barker), 1968, Medieval Archaeology Vol. 12 p. 182 online copy
  • Barker, P.A., Nov 1967, 'Hen Domen - Motte' Current Archaeology Vol. 5 p. 133-6
  • Barker, P.A. 1967. 'Hen Domen’ Archaeology in Wales Vol. 7 p. 17
  • (Barker), 1967, Medieval Archaeology Vol. 11 p. 290 online copy
  • Spurgeon, C.J., 1966, ‘The castles of Montgomeryshire’ Montgomeryshire Collections Vol. 59 p. 20-25 online copy
  • Barker, P.A. 1966. 'Hen Domen’ Archaeology in Wales Vol. 6 p. 22
  • (Barker), 1966, Medieval Archaeology Vol. 10 p. 195-6 download copy
  • Barker, P.A. 1965. 'Hen Domen’ Archaeology in Wales Vol. 5 p. 33
  • (Barker), 1965, Medieval Archaeology Vol. 9 p. 193 online copy
  • Barker, P.A. 1964. 'Hen Domen’ Archaeology in Wales Vol. 4 p. 21
  • (Barker), 1964, Medieval Archaeology Vol. 8 p. 262 online copy
  • 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
  • Barker, P.A. 1963. 'Hen Domen’ Archaeology in Wales Vol. 3 p. 20
  • (Barker), 1962-3, Medieval Archaeology Vol. 6-7 p. 326-8 online copy
  • Barker, P.A. 1962. ‘Hen Domen’ Archaeology in Wales Vol. 2 p. 17
  • Barker, P.A. 1961. 'Hen Domen’ Archaeology in Wales Vol. 1 p. 14
  • (Barker), 1961, Medieval Archaeology Vol. 5 p. 322 online copy
  • 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)
  • Davies Pryce, English Historical Review Vol. 20 p. 709
  • Chitty, Lily, 1949, 'Subsidiary Castle Sites West of Shrewsbury' Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological Society Vol. 53 p. 83-90
  • O'Neil, B.H.St.J., 1942-3, 'Excavations at Ffridd Faldwyn Camp, Montgomery, 1937-9' Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 97 p. 4
  • O'Neil, B.H.St.J., 1940, 'Montgomery town wall' Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 95 p. 217
  • 1932, Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 87 p. 439-41
  • Gardner, Willoughby, 1923, Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 78 p. 343-4
  • Hope, W.H.St J., 1903, 'English Fortresses and Castles of the Tenth and Eleventh Centuries' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 60 p. 86 online copy
  • Clark, G.T., 1889, 'Contribution towards a complete list of moated mounds or burhs' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 46 p. 197-217 esp. 216 online copy
  • Clark, G.T., 1880, 'The moated mounds of the Upper Severn' Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 35 p. 210-11 (reprint of Montgomeryshire Collections article) online copy
  • Clark, G.T., 1877, ‘The moated mounds of the Upper Severn’, Montgomeryshire Collections Vol. 10 p. 340-2 online copy
  • Sandford, G., 1877, 'Montgomery Castle Part 1' Montgomeryshire Collections Vol. 10 p. 61-73 online copy

Guide Books

  • Lloyd, J.D.K. and Knight, J.K., 1981 (2edn), Montgomery Castle, Powys/Castell Trefaldwyn (HMSO) p. 6-7

Primary Sources

  • 253v 254a Great Domesday Book (Muntgumeri) online copy
  • The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle ; Laud Chronicle AD1095 online copy (Text based on Everyman Press edn of 1912)
  • The Great Roll of the Pipe for the ninth year of the reign of King John : Michaelmas 1207 (Pipe Roll Society 60)
  • Hardy, T.D. (ed), 1835, Rotuli litterarm patentium in Turri londinensi asservati (Record Commission) p. 73b online copy
  • The Memoranda Roll of the tenth year of the Reign of King John (1207-8) : together with the Curia Regis Rolls of Hilary 7 Richard I (1196) and Easter 9 Richard I (1198). A roll of plates held by Hugh de Neville in 9 John (1207-8), and fragments of the close Rolls of 16 and 17 John (1215-16) (Pipe Roll Society 69) p. 131