Clun Castle was built in the motte and bailey style around the 1100’s by the Norman, Robert de Say. The original castle would have been built from wooden timbers however, as time progressed these would have been replaced with stone, as was typical with most Norman defensive structures.The position of the Castle may have originally been chosen as a good defensive site, close to the Welsh border where any Welsh troublemakers could be kept under Norman control. The proximity of the confluence between the Rivers Clun and Usk had created a rocky outcrop, which could easily have been used to serve as the motte. It was also in a good position to be able to able to control the movements of people on the Clun-Clee Ridgeway, a historic road where cattle was taken from Wales to markets in the Midlands and London.
In 1196, under the leadership of Lord Rhys, records show that Clun castle was besieged by the Welsh. The castle then came into the ownership of the Fitzalan family, who established the surrounding town. The Fitzalan family is perhaps known as establishing Arundel castle in southern England (today the home of the Dukes of Norfolk), but they were also lords of Clun and Oswestry. William Fitzalan died in 1210, however his family remained at the castle for a time continuing to establish the town. The Fitzalan family abandoned Clun Castle in the 1270’s to concentrate their efforts on the more impressive, Arundel Castle. After the departure of the Fitzalan’s, the castle started to fall into ruin.
Welsh Raiders including Owain Glyndwr, attacked the castle with varying degrees of success, however over time Clun castle lost its defensive significance and after Glyndwr’s assault, the castle vanishes from the historical records.
The remains of the 80-foot tall keep are still standing on the site today. With one wall resting in the ditch and the opposite wall, sitting on the mound. Remnants of the curtain wall which would once have enclosed the motte can still be seen.
A spring fair takes place in the castle grounds on the May Bank Holiday and its at that time, during the towns 'Greenman Festival' that we made our visit. A visit to the tiny town of Clun, its eccentric museum and the remains of the rectangular keep and two baileys make it a site worth visiting. The banks of the motte are impressive as is the small many sided bowling green that is laid out within the castle grounds.
The Clun Green Man Festival - website