Painscastle is a small village in Powys on the B4594 about 5 miles north-west of Hay-on-Wye. The castle is in the centre of the village.
SO 166462

Article by Paul Remfry
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Photo: Andrew Tivenan

The name Painscastle commemorates Pain FitzJohn (d1137), a great supporter of king Henry I who was granted extensive lands in the Welsh Marches and elsewhere. It is possible that there was a castle on the site before Pain built here, but no conclusive evidence. In 1276 Roger Mortimer of Wigmore (d1282) seized Painscastle from the Welsh. The next year, however, he was compelled by king Edward I to return it to its Lord, Ralph Tosny.

Photo: Andrew Tivenan

Today all that remains of this great fortress are massive earthworks. These consist of a great motte which was once crowned by a keep. Beneath this is a rectangular bailey which is still deeply ditched. The remains of two barbicans can still be made out that approached the entrances to motte and bailey. The earthworks suggest at least two round towers stood in the bailey enceinte* as well as a hall block. The outer earthworks have cavaliers in them which are similar to those found at Berkhamsted castle.

* enceinte (from Latin incinctus: girdled, surrounded), is a French term used technically in fortification for the inner ring of fortifications surrounding a town or a concentric castle.

Photo: Andrew Tivenan
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