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Historic England Research Records

Clun Castle

Hob Uid: 105317
Location :
Shropshire
Clun
Grid Ref : SO2985380908
Summary : The site of a medieval motte and three baileys surviving as an earthwork and stone buildings. The remains are situated on a natural rocky mound in the loop of the River Clun on the edge of Clun village (a planned 12th century settlement). It was originally built of wood between 1090 and 1110, probably by Picot de Say, a follower of William the Conqueror. It would have guarded the valley route into Wales and been a monument to the English monarchy in the border region, as well as an administrative centre of the Barony of Clun. The castle was captured and burnt down by the Welsh in 1196, led by Rhys, prince of south Wales. The lordship of Clun at this time was held by the Fitz Alan family and John Fitz Alan joined a revolt against King John in 1215; the castle was rebuilt and withstood a later siege by Llewellyn in 1233. It was rebuilt in stone in the late 13th century by the Fitz Alans who used it as a residence and hunting lodge. This phase survives as the ruined four-storeyed Great Tower built onto the side of the motte (mound), and curtain walls. Edward I spent the night at the castle in 1295, but by the early 15th century the devastation caused by Owain Glyn Dwr, self-styled prince of Wales, brought an end to the castle's prosperity. Although the castle continued to be used as a hunting lodge, it was no longer the Fitz Alans main residence, and by 1539 it had fallen into a ruinous state. The castle played no part in the Civil War, and was eventually bought by the Dukes of Norfolk, descendants of the medieval Fitz Alans. The castle farm was within the smallest of the three baileys (courtyards) where the bowling green is now situated. Across the river lie the remains of medieval gardens. In the early 16th century a courthouse was added, further alterations were carried out in 1780 and 1885. The site is in the care of English Heritage.
More information : (SO 2984 8093) Castle (NR) (Remains of) (NAT) (1)

Clun Castle has a high mound at the point of a sharp bend of the River Clun and inner and outer baileys stretching from the mound away from the river. A deep moat encircles the mound and the baileys.

The site was probably fortified by Robert de Say, who owned the land at the time of Domesday. A small rising on the mound and fragments of a curtain wall may belong to this period; the wall towers were added later.

The keep is of four storeys, two of them below the level of the top of the mound, and although still standing to nearly its full height, is in a very ruinous condition. (2) Plans (3). Mentioned in Pipe Rolls for 1160-4 and 1215. (2-3)

Clun Castle is administered by the Parish Council as a Recreation Ground.
Published Survey 1:2500 revised. (4)

Remains of Clun Castle (Formerly listed as remains of Clun Castle and Gatehouse). Castle, remains of. 1090-1110 with C13 additions by the Fitzallans. Coursed limestone rubble with roughly squared facing and sandstone ashlar dressings. Extensive earthworks with motte to West and 3 baileys to East; the ruins stand on the motte with the keep to the North, pair of C13 semi-circular curtain wall towers to West and fragment of wall to South. Keep: walls remaining to North, West and East, basement and 3 storeys; wide clasping buttresses and battered basement to North; scattered round-arched openings on each floor.
Towers: fragments of semi-circular towers, that to the South with 2 dressed stone arches in the North side. Small fragment of curtain wall to South. The castle was built in conjunction with the planned town laid out to the East; it stands high up in a loop of the River Clun near its confluence with the River Unk (incorrectly called the Urk in the Ancient Monument description) and the strategic significance of the site is easily appreciated in vistas from the surrounding hills and especially from the Clun valley to the West. A.M. County No. 3. (5)

SO 298 809. Clun Castle. The castle motte lies in the north-west quarter of the site with its two baileys to the east and south east. The motte has been created from a natural prominence, rather than built up. On the west side the site is protected by the river and the steep scarp slope of the hill which has been artificially steepened. Around the remaining sides a ditch has been cut to isolate a portion of the hill summit so forming the motte. At its base it measures some 80m north to south by 76m east to west, rising 12m from the bottom of the ditch to a summit 50m by 40m. On the summit are the ruins of the castle keep: a fragment of the western curtain wall and an impressive late 13th century great tower. The latter stands 28m high built into the north face of the motte. It appears to have been built for prestige rather than defence as its position on the side of the motte makes it vulnerable. It originally contained well-appointed chambers on three floors over undercrofts. The larger bailey lies to the immediate south-east of the motte, separated from it by a substantial ditch, except at its north-western corner where a causeway allows access to the motte. The ditch continues around the north and east sides of the bailey. Along the south west the natural hillslope and river provide defence. The level plateau-like summit of the bailey is roughly triangular in plan with dimensions of 80m north west to south east by 40m transversely. There are traces of an inner bank 0.7m high running along the eastern edge of the bailey. To the north of this enclosure and linked to it by a causeway is a smaller bailey. This small roughly rectangular enclosure has internal dimensions of 42m east to west by 40m north to south. An engraving by Samuel and Nathaniel Buck in 1731 shows that a court house was situated on this bailey. The court house was demolished in 1789 when Clun Town Hall was built. To the north of this bailey and of the motte are the remains of a strong bank. It runs for some 80m curving around the base of the bailey and motte, averages 8m wide and stands up to 3.6m high. To the west of the castle, on the west bank of the River Clun, are a series of linear earthworks believed to be the remains of garden features associated with the castle. The earthworks appear to be designed to control and manage water.
Scheduled. (6)

Clun Castle is clearly visible on aerial photographs of the area.
It was mapped at 1:10,000 scale during the Marches Uplands Mapping Project. (7-8)

Additional reference. (9)

Listed by Cathcart King. (10)

History of the castle 1066-1282. After 1303 the castle was largely used as a prison rather than a residence, and by circa 1540 it was described as ruinous. It was probably not garrisoned during the Civil War. (11)

Addtional references. (12-21)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6" 1901-1949
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Source Number : 2
Source : The castles of Great Britain
Source details :
Page(s) : 89-90
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Source Number : 11
Source : Clun Castle 1066 to 1282
Source details :
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 12
Source : Herefordshire Archaeology [assessment & evaluation reports]
Source details : 'Clun Castle, Shropshire: an outline history. Desk-based survey report.' by Richard K Morriss, 1990
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 69
Source Number : 13
Source : Herefordshire Archaeology [assessment & evaluation reports]
Source details : 'Clun Castle - watching brief on minor excavations' by Nic Appleton-Fox, 1992
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 165
Source Number : 14
Source : Herefordshire Archaeology [assessment & evaluation reports]
Source details : 'Clun Castle - watching brief on minor excavations for display panels', by R Williams, 1993
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 189
Source Number : 15
Source : Hereford and Worcester County Council, County Archaeological Service reports
Source details : 'Archaeological Assessment of Clun, Shropshire (CMHTS)' by Victoria Buteux et al, 1996
Page(s) :
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Vol(s) : 311
Source Number : 16
Source : Herefordshire archaeological newsheet
Source details : 'Five castles in Clun lordship', by P M Renfrey, 1994
Page(s) : 15-25
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 61
Source Number : 17
Source : Shropshire: an archaeological guide
Source details :
Page(s) : 55-6
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Source Number : 18
Source : Shropshire County Council Archaeology Service reports
Source details : 'Clun Castle, Clun, Shropshire: watching brief', by Hannaford, H R, 2008
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 19
Source : Clun Castle, Shropshire: botanical survey
Source details :
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Source Number : 20
Source : Tree survey : Clun Castle, Shropshire: for English Heritage
Source details :
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Source Number : 3
Source : Norman Castles in Britain
Source details :
Page(s) : 148-50
Figs. : PLANS
Plates :
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Source Number : 21
Source : Heritage Unlocked: Guide to free sites in the Midlands
Source details :
Page(s) : 68-9
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Source Number : 4
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 DJC 13-AUG-73
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Source Number : 5
Source : List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
Source details : District of South Shropshire, JUN-1985
Page(s) : 31
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 417
Source Number : 6
Source : County list of Scheduled Monuments : March 1994
Source details : Shropshire
Page(s) : 19
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Source Number : 7
Source : Oblique aerial photograph reference number
Source details : CUCAP AWI 44-5 21-DEC-1968
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Source Number : 8
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : RAF 541/40 4247-8, 22-MAY-1948
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Source Number : 9
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : 09-Oct-95
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 10
Source : Castellarium anglicanum : an index and bibliography of the castles in England, Wales and the Islands. Volume II : Norfolk-Yorkshire and the islands
Source details :
Page(s) : 423
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 2

Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Built 1090-1110
Monument End Date : 1110
Monument Start Date : 1090
Monument Type : Motte And Bailey
Evidence : Earthwork
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Rebuilt by 1233
Monument End Date : 1233
Monument Start Date : 1196
Monument Type : Castle
Evidence : Documentary Evidence
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Burnt down 1196
Monument End Date : 1196
Monument Start Date : 1196
Monument Type : Motte And Bailey
Evidence : Earthwork
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Second half of the 13th century
Monument End Date : 1300
Monument Start Date : 1250
Monument Type : Castle, Angle Tower, Gatehouse
Evidence : Ruined Building
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : use changed
Monument End Date : 1300
Monument Start Date : 1300
Monument Type : Hunting Lodge, Prison
Evidence : Ruined Building, Documentary Evidence
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Early 16th addition
Monument End Date : 1532
Monument Start Date : 1500
Monument Type : Court House
Evidence : Ruined Building
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Altered 1780
Monument End Date : 1780
Monument Start Date : 1780
Monument Type : Castle, Court House
Evidence : Ruined Building
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : 1885 alterations
Monument End Date : 1885
Monument Start Date : 1885
Monument Type : Castle, Court House
Evidence : Ruined Building

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : SA 3
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Shropshire)
External Cross Reference Number : 1198
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : MORPH2
External Cross Reference Number : MU.267.3
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : NBR Index Number
External Cross Reference Number : 81299
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Listed Building List Entry Legacy Uid
External Cross Reference Number : 257157
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : EH Property Number
External Cross Reference Number : 338
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : 19179
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SO 28 SE 5
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 105332
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 105378
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 105403
Relationship type :

Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, CITY OF HEREFORD ARCHAEOLOGY UNIT
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date :
End Date :
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON SO 28 SE 5
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1973-08-13
End Date : 1973-08-13
Associated Activities : Primary, CLUN CASTLE
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 1990-01-01
End Date : 1990-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, RCHME: MARCHES UPLANDS NMP
Activity type : AERIAL PHOTOGRAPH INTERPRETATION
Start Date : 1993-01-01
End Date : 1994-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, CLUN CASTLE III
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1993-01-01
End Date : 1993-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, CLUN CASTLE
Activity type : GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1998-01-01
End Date : 1998-12-31