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'Where Wales Begins'
The Middle Ages
The town of Welshpool first appears in historical records in the 1240s with the granting of a borough charter, although it seems certain that the settlement is much older. Records mention a castle here in 1196, which is probably the motte and bailey earthwork lying near the railway station. This type of castle is typical of those built by the Norman barons of William the Conqueror and could even date from 1111. It is likely that the earliest town lay between this castle and the site of the early church, Capel Llewelyn, on Salop Road. During the 13th century the new borough was laid out along what is now Broad Street and High Street and the town grew rapidly. It was at this time that Powis Castle developed as the area's major stronghold. Today the castle, the seat of the Earls of Powis, is resplendent in its remarkable 17th century gardens and later parkland and is one of Welshpool's major tourist attractions. However the town also has much history to offer and many fine 17th and 18th century buildings still line its main street. Welshpool

Welshpool. The C13th medieval borough is set out along Broad Street, in the top half of the photograph. The Norman town (and possibly an even earlier settlement) lie to the south of Salop Road, in the bottom left hand corner of the frame. Photograph 96-C-37 © The Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust.

Montgomery Castle

Montgomery Castle. Overlooking the medieval town, the castle was built in the C13th to replace the Norman motte and bailey at Hen Domen. The castle was largely destroyed during the Civil War. Photograph 84-C-468 © The Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust.

Great ruined castles abound in the surrounding area, notably at Dolforwyn built by Llywelyn ap Gruffydd in 1273, and at Montgomery where the gaunt remains dominates the small medieval county town. Like much of Welshpool, Montgomery and its castle were founded in the 13th century, but today the town's picturesque square is ringed by attractive Georgian houses and fine market hall. In 1644 one of the largest Civil War battles fought in Wales, involving over 5000 troops, took place in the fields below the castle.