Bronylls Castle, Powys
Bronylls, North east of Brecon
A438 / A479
Bronllys Castle is one of a dozen or so castles in the southern March, distinguished by its 13th century round keep. First established as a motte and bailey castle by Richard fitz Pons at the end of the 11th century, the great tower was added by Walter de Clifford III. Such towers were a simple and effective way of bringing a timber castle up to date at this time.
The castle stands on an elevated site near the point where the Llynfi is joined by the Dulais as it flows north to the Wye at Glasbury four miles away. It is placed at a commanding position upon what was probably the main route by which the Normans penetrated the Welsh Kingdom of Brycheiniog in the last years of the eleventh century.
The castle can be found quite close to the road, where there is a lay-by for limited parking. A short walk and the castle quickly comes into view. Since my first visit to the castle, an impressive wooden staircase is now in place since the repairs made to the inside of the castle to enable the visitor to not only explore the inside, but also climb to the upper levels, previously not possible.
~ History ~
1086 - Richard fitz Pons of the barony of Clifford, at the western extremity of the county of Hereford, builds himself a timber motte and bailey castle at Bronllys.
1093 - The Normans, including Richard fitz Pons, under Bernard of Newmarch capture and kill Rhys ap Tewdwr, king of the Welsh kingdom of Deheubarth. During the following years other Norman lords participated with Bernard in the campaign by which Brycheiniog is conquered and the lordship of Brecon established.
1116 - Richard fitz Pons establishes himself as lord of Cantref Selyf, a vast tract of mountainous territory extending north-westward from the castle. Soon the adjoining lordship of Cantref Bychan is annexed by Richard.
1138 - Richard's son inherits Bronllys Castle and the lordship of Cantref Selyf, and takes the name Clifford.
1165 - During a fire at the castle a falling stone from the tower kills its lord. The inheritance is divided. The lordship of Brecon passes to William de Braose I as part of a larger marcher estate. William's son and heir William de Braose II further enlarges his fathers estates under King John. Some years later King John completely destroys William, leaving his family unable to retrieve their lands in Wales. His eldest son, William de Braose III is put to death by King John, and Brecon is amongst the lands which come to his uncle Reginald de Braose.
1241 - Humphrey de Bohun secures Brecon as the guardian of Eleanor de Braose who is to marry his son.
1263 - Upon the death of Walter de Clifford III Bronllys passes to his daughter Maud, by his wife Margaret, daughter of Llywelyn the Great.
1311 - Bronllys is passed down through marriages to Master Rhys ap Hywel, a close associate to the powerful Bohun family and leading Welsh loyalist to King Edward I.
1321 - Following the barons rebellion against Edward II in which Rhys was supportive of, their brief supremacy over the Crown see's Rhys imprisoned and his estates forfeit.
1326 - Roger Mortimer, leader of the baron's cause returns from exile against Edward II. Rhys is released from prison. Edward is later captured by Rhys and Henry of Lancatser in the lordship of Glamorgan.
1327 - Edward II is murdered in Berkeley Castle.
1328 - Rhys dies and his inheritance passes to his son Philip ap Rhys. As Lord of Bronllys Philip plays an important tenant-in-chief role to his overlord Humphrey de Bohun.
1373 - Humprey de Bohun V, the last of his dynasty, dies and after a year in which his executors have custody of his estates, the lands are taken into the king's hands.
1400 - Bronllys castle is repaired in response to the Welsh uprising under Owain Glyndwr.
1409 - Further repairs are made to the castle.
1478 - Bronllys is granted to Henry, Duke of Buckingham who already holds the lordship of Brecon.
1483 - Buckingham rebels in an attempt to secure the throne for Henry Tudor. He wins little support from his neighbouring lords and the attempt ends in his execution and the forfeiture of his lands.
1498 - Following Henry Tudor's accession to the throne, Buckingham's young heir Edward is granted his fathers estates, except the castle of Bronllys.
1509 - Bronllys castle is finally granted to Edward.
1521 - Buckingham's lands are again forfeited following his rebellion against the king. A survey of the castle made for the king report the castle is beyond repair and only fit for use as a prison.