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Hen Domen Castle

west of the town of Montgomery, Powys, mid Wales
SO 214 980
Map link for Hen Domen Castle

Photographs copyright © 2002 by Jeffrey L. Thomas

Above: the still impressive motte at Hen Domen viewed from the castle bailey.
Below: approaching the site of the castle from Hendomen farm


Shortly after the Norman Conquest the conqueror's kinsman Roger de Montgomery, who had been left in Normandy as co-regent with the Duchess, received large tracts of territory both in Sussex and Shropshire and was created Earl of Shrewsbury, where the castle already established by the Conqueror by 1069 became its principal seat. At some date between 1070 and 1074 Roger built a castle in what was the Shropshire hundred of Witentreu which he called after his ancestral fief in Normandy. This was however not on the site of the present castle but was the earthen motte and bailey of Hen Domen one mile north of the town; any reference to Montgomery prior to 1223 refers to this and not the present castle.

Earl Roger died in 1094 and was succeeded in his estates in this country by his third, but second surviving son Hugh. It was during Hugh's tenure that the castle was sacked in 1095 by Cadwgan ap Bleddyn, Prince of Powys. Hugh was killed on the shores of Anglesey in a fight with the Norwegians in 1098 and was succeeded by his elder brother Robert. Robert was prominent amongst those who sided with Duke Robert of Normandy against his brother (King) Henry I and, as a result, was deprived of his honours in this country in 1102. After a further turbulent career, he died a prisoner of King Henry in Corfe Castle in about 1131.

On the fall of Hen Domen it was granted by Henry I to Baldwin de Boulers, whose stepson Stephen (slain by Llywelyn ap Madog of Powys in 1152) and grandsons Robert and Baldwin succeeded him. It is presumably from the first or second Baldwin, who died about 1207, that the Welsh name of Trefaldwyn (a mutation from Tre Baldwin) arose.

The lordship was eventually sold to Thomas de Erdington of Erdington (Warwickshire) in 1214-15. The sale was confirmed by King John who, however, handed the lordship to Gwenwynwyn, Prince of Powys, in 1216; but he was almost immediately driven out by Llywelyn ap Iorwerth, Prince of Gwynedd. John died on 19 October in the same year and the effective history of Hen Domen may be said to have come to an end.

Hen Domen was not totally abandoned at this date however, for the pottery from the site seems to continue down until at least the end of the 13th century. Unlike the new stone castle which replaced it, Hen Domen commands a direct view of the ford across the Severn and it may have been maintained for many years as an outpost of the new castle.

Montgomery Castle, J.D.K. Lloyd & J.K. Knight, The Welsh Office, Cardiff, 1981.

Below: two views of the ditch & bank at Hen Domen surrounding the motte and bailey.

Below: approaching the motte from the eastern entrance

Below: the bailey of Hen Domen viewed from the motte.

Below: view across the top of the motte at Hen Domen


Hendomen: Powys Digital History Project

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Copyright © 2009 by Jeffrey L. Thomas