The small village of Huntington lies on unclassified roads, 4 miles south-west of Kington.
The castle is in the village which is just in Herefordshire, though the border with Wales runs around the north side of the castle.
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Article by Paul Remfry
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Photo: castlesUK

Huntington castle seems to have been founded as the direct successor to Kington castle, although it must be realized that the earlier history of the vill or manor is somewhat obscure. In the early thirteenth century the barony of Kington, which included Huntington, was bought by William Braose (d1211). On the death of his grandson William (d1230) many of the Braose lands were partioned amongst various heirs. One took the lordship of Abergavenny to the Cantilupe family; one the lordship of Brecon to the Bohun family and one the lordship of Radnor to the Mortimers of Wigmore. A fourth daughter Isabella took the lordship of Buellt, centred on Builth Wells Castle to Prince Dafydd (d1246) the eldest legitimate son and heir of Llywelyn ap Iorwerth (d1240). The Mortimers, however, always felt that they had not received their full share of the division of the Braose lands and this was to be one cause of the civil war of 1263-6. In the meantime the barony of Kington with Huntington castle passed to the Bohuns as part of their share of the Braose inheritance. By February 1254 Roger Mortimer of Wigmore (d1282) succeeded in being assigned certain lands in Brecon barony as part of the Braose settlement, although the Bohun's successfully stalled from giving him anything. In November 1256 war again came to Wales when Prince Llywelyn ap Gruffydd (d1282) and his brother Dafydd (d1283) invaded the Marches of Wales and annexed them to the principality of Gwynedd. War generally favoured Prince Llywelyn in this period and in November to December 1262 he convincingly defeated Roger Mortimer and seized much of Radnorshire and Breconshire from the Marchers. In March 1263 the Lord Edward, later to be Edward I (1272-1307) arrived with an army from Gascony and transferred to Roger Mortimer the castles of Brecon, Huntington and Hay on Wye which Mortimer claimed against the Bohuns. Two months later Humphrey Bohun (d1265), son of Humphrey Bohun, Earl of Hereford & Earl of Essex (d1275) the disenfranchised lord of Brecon, was amongst those who raised the standard of rebellion against King Henry III and his son and heir, the Lord Edward. This was the beginning of the Barons' War of 1263-66.

Photo: Andrew Tivenan

In July 1264 Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester (d1265) appeared before the walls of Hay on Wye castle and forced its Mortimer garrison to surrender. Huntington Castle was probably also besieged, but did not surrender before Roger Mortimer himself was surrounded at Montgomery Castle and forced to surrender at the end of August. The Mortimer garrison in Huntington castle remained true to their lord's cause and, despite the many defeats suffered by Mortimer, they kept the baronial army from occupying the castle until August 1265 when Roger Mortimer commanded a third of the Marcher army. This force under the overall command of Lord Edward, defeated and killed Simon de Montfort at the battle of Evesham.
After Evesham Roger Mortimer took back Hay on Wye Castle and used this and Huntington Castle as bases for regaining Brecon Castle from Prince Llywelyn, who had taken the castle in May 1263. On 15 May 1266 Roger Mortimer's army was all but annihilated in battle just short of Brecon. This disaster was followed by another Civil War, with Roger marching against the earl of Gloucester who had seized London for the barons. As the royal army approached a novel plan was put before the king: burn London to the ground by sending small birds with burning twigs tied to their feet over the town walls! Thankfully more humane methods prevailed and a truce led to a final peace which involved Roger Mortimer returning Huntington and Hay on Wye castles back to the Bohuns as part of a general settlement.

Photo: Andrew Tivenan

The main 'earthwork' feature of the castle now appears to be the 'motte'. Its minuscule summit is approximately 25 feet above the upper bailey interior and 45 feet above the ditch to the west. The fact that the 'motte' rises to a pinnacle and not to a platform should at once raise questions over the validity of its description. It is, in fact, most likely to be merely the collapsed remnants of a large, probably octagonal, tower now turfed over, as is the fate of many once noble structures. The primary part of Huntington castle is undoubtedly the inner bailey which is internally divided into an upper and lower court. Externally it appears to be a whole. The bailey defences, which might otherwise be described as a ringwork, appear to have been formed by digging a deep ditch around the site, except to the north west where the steep slope down to the Belleau Brook precluded the need for such a feature. The steep V shaped nature of the ditch and its position against the Belleau Brook ravine strongly indicate that the ditch was always meant to be dry. Throughout the site there are numerous fragments and traces of masonry, but what remains is now most overgrown.