Castle of the Hay

Hay-on-Wye was unique in that it had two Norman castles. This is the site of the first one.

After William of Nomandy invaded England in 1066, he rewarded his supporters with land along the Welsh border. No matter that the land belonged to the Welsh; these lords were allowed to seize whatever land looked good to them. Then, since they needed to protect their new land, they built castles.

Hay was taken by the Normans in 1100 A.D. At that time, Norman Lord Bernard Newmarch constructed a small castle on a motte (that’s an artificial mound to you and me) on the western edge of Hay-on-Wye.

The castle was built in the very descriptive motte and bailey style, whose main characteristics were a stone or wood tower atop a motte, accompanied by an enclosed courtyard and protective ditch. The Normans constructed these all over England and Wales and they eventually became fashionable across northern Europe.

This site overlooks a gorge and stream that flows into the River Wye. In the 1200’s, the Normans abandoned this for a much larger and higher stone castle.

Hay Castle, Wales, motte and bailey, Wye

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