including Glan Edw Castle

The remains of the castles are on the north side of the A481 just west of Hundred House, 5 miles north-east of Builth Wells in Powys.
SO 108540

Article adapted from one by Paul Remfry
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Aerial view showing earthworks of the second castle and outlines of the Roman fort
Photo: Jasper Fforde (CC A-SA 3.0 U Licence)

The castles are on the site of a Roman fort. The first Colwyn castle (Glan Edw) is the only motte and bailey in Elfael Uwch Mynydd commote*. For this reason it is almost certainly the first castle called Colwyn. It was probably commenced in 1093 by Ralph Tosny of Clifford and taken by the forces of Madog ab Idnerth around 1135 and then rebuilt by Hugh Mortimer of Wigmore (d1181) in 1144. It was not mentioned again and must have reverted to Welsh control probably with the defeat of Hugh by his Angevin enemies in the period 1148-53. Old Colwyn castle was subsequently rebuilt by the forces of William Braose (d1211) in 1195 and besieged and finally destroyed by Prince Rhys ap Gruffydd in 1196. As a consequence of this, it would seem unlikely that the castle now known as Colwyn was actually founded much before 1196 when its predecessor was abandoned.

Photo: Paul Remfry

A farmhouse now occupies much of the site of the new fortress which was given to the Welsh allies of the Braose family in 1215 and seems to have remained in Welsh hands throughout the rule of Llywelyn ab Iorwerth. (d1240). On Llywelyn's death the local princes seem to have managed to transfer their allegiance easily to King Henry III and to have remained in possession of the castle site. In the 1250's the overlordship of the district was given by Prince Edward to Roger Mortimer of Wigmore (d1282). In July 1260 Sir Owain ap Maredudd, the tenant of Roger Mortimer, surrendered Colwyn to Prince Llywelyn after the fall of Builth Wells castle. Sir Owain seems to have weathered the following storms and in 1276/7 he successfully returned to royal allegiance with the support of his many, now fully grown, sons. In December 1282, however, the old Sir Owain and his sons appear to have risen in favour of Prince Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, immediately before his death in 1282. As a consequence of their rebellion they lost Colwyn castle and the lands of their ancestors in Elfael to the Mortimers. The castle was then taken, or possibly rebuilt by Matilda Mortimer (d1303), the widow of Roger (d1282). The Mortimers lost control of the district to the Tosnys in the late 1290's and the fortress seems to have been abandoned by 1397, when the Beauchamps were ruling Elfael from their base at Painscastle

* a commote was a secular division of land in medieval Wales

View towards the Glan Edw motte in the trees
Photo: Paul Remfry