I took a day off on Friday, the first I've managed for a while, and headed over to see my friend Katharine. While I live very much in Wales, she lives in the Borders (but still in Wales, just!). It's been part of Wales for a long time now, but in past centuries the strip of land between England and Wales was a dangerous place to live, and territory was regularly swapped between the English and Wales, usually at sword point.
The Welsh princes regularly raided in to England, and the Marcher lords used to do the same in to Welsh territory. At that time the Marches were ruled over by English aristocracy, they had great power, and kept large standing armies to try and help defend their lands. At times their raids crept too far in to Welsh territory and outright civil war broke out.
This part of the country is littered with small castles, essential bases for both sides.
They're usually found on small steep sided hills, giving great views of the surrounding countryside, and making them hard to attack. Of course back then this would all have been woodland, the trees were felled during the Napoleonic wars.
This is Dolforwyn castle, originally occupied by the Welsh. The final truly welsh Prince of Wales Llewelyn used it as base in the 13th century, but it was then captured by the English Mortimer family, and used by them for a short while. The castle itself was completely buried until the 1980's until Cadw (who look after and maintain many historical sites in Wales) excavated the remains of the castle.
They certainly knew how to build back then, the fact that there is still anything left after 700 years is pretty amazing, and it's a very visible reminder of a fascinating piece of history.
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