The first timber castle was probably built at the turn of the 11th and 12th centuries by Richard FitzPons during the Norman conquest of the border areas of Wales. Situated at the intersection between the Llynfi and Talgarth rivers, it had good conditions to control local trade routes. Reconstruction of the castle to a stone building, began Walter de Clifford around 1165. Information about this was preserved, because the fire, which was ignited during the rebuilding, caused the fall of the stone structure that killed the youngest son of the Lord. The next extension of the castle was carried out in the first half of the 13th century by Walter’s grandson, Walter III de Clifford. In 1233, he commanded over 200 people in the castle who defended it against his father-in-law, Llywelyn ab Iorwerth.
In subsequent years, the castle passed from Cliffords to the hands of the Giffard family and eventually to the powerful de Bohun family, earls of Hereford. In 1399 king Henry IV took possession of the entire property of the de Bohun family, and the castle was additionally strengthened against the forces of Owain Glyndŵr in the first years of his rebellion in the early fifteenth century. Later it was never besieged, and by the end of the sixteenth century it fell into disrepair.
The original castle was an earth-wood stronghold of the motte and bailey type with two fortified outer baileys. The exchange of fortifications from wooden to stone began in 1165, a stone, cylindrical keep was erected in the thirties of the thirteenth century. The road to it led through the outer bailey and wooden stairs to the first floor level. Initially, the ceilings of the tower were wooden, only in the fourteenth century they were replaced with stone vaults. From the very beginning, the building has a basement, access to the lowest storey was provided by a ladder. A staircase led to the representative second floor with a fireplace. The third floor was occupied by the private chamber of the Lord. It was rebuilt in the fourteenth century, then the windows were replaced with new, larger, gothic ones, and a fireplace was installed in the room. The top of the keep probably had a battlement with arrowslits. Thanks to the eighteenth-century engravings, it is known that the castle had a rectangular, stone, two- or three-storey building of the great hall on the outer bailey.
To this day, a cylindrical keep of almost full height has survived on an earth mound. The relics of a rectangular building on the outer bailey of the castle are probably embedded in the modern building that is located there. The castle is under the care of Cadw, the branch of the Welsh government agency responsible for the monuments and is open to visitors from April to October.
Kenyon J., The medieval castles of Wales, Cardiff 2010.
Pettifer A., Welsh castles, Woodbridge 2000.