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Shrawardine Castle, Shropshire


A castle is known to have been in existence at Shrawardine since the mid 12th century and was one of a pair of castles built to fortify either side of a ford across the River Severn. In 1212 the castle was destroyed by the Welsh during Llewellyn's successful raid on Shrewsbury, after which it was rebuilt by the FitzAllens rebuilt, who renamed it Castle Isabel. The castle was then held by the FitzAllens until they were forced to sell the estate in 1583 to Thomas Bromley. Saxton’s map of Shropshire in 1577 shows a park pale or fence surrounding Shrawardine and it may therefore be the case that the castle had by this time been adopted as more of a country house than defensive stronghold.

Map

Right: Shrawardine Castle© CPAT CS95-c-1168

During the civil war the castle was held for the Royalist cause, together with Shrewsbury. Soon after the fall of Shrewsbury in 1645 Shrawardine was captured and the walls of the keep robbed to complete the additional defences being built at Shrewsbury. Further robbing over the centuries has left little masonry now visible, although the base of one wall of the keep survives, together with the fragmentary remains of one of the tower bases.

Montford Parish Millenium Green Trust

In 1999 the site was purchased by the Montford Parish Millennium Green Trust, who have since been responsible for the creation of a pond and wildlife sanctuary and for the essential repairs to the castle. Funding has been provided from the Local Heritage Initiative and the project is also being assisted by Shrewsbury and Atcham Borough Council.

Archaeological Surveys

CPAT was invited to undertake a detailed archaeological survey of the castle and its setting, consisting of a topographical survey of all visible earthworks, undertaken by CPAT, and a comprehensive geophysical survey, conducted by ArchaeoPhysica. The initial results of the surveys were presented at an open day in early September 2001, which included demonstrations of the equipment and techniques used.

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Right: Topographical survey © CPAT CS01-20-24

The results from the survey have revealed important new information for the layout of the castle and the surrounding village. The survey has shown that the original castle consisted of an earthwork mound, known as a motte, which would have had a timber tower on top. The motte was surround by a large ditch, to the east of which was an oval outer enclosure, or bailey, which would have had timber buildings including the domestic quarters, kitchens and stables. The bailey was later enlarged with the addition of an outer bailey on the south side.

After the castle was destroyed by Llywelyn in 1215 a new and larger castle was built in stone and it is the remains of this castle which can be seen today. The castle mound itself is roughly rectangular and evidence from the archaeological surveys suggests that it was enclosed by a substantial stone wall, or curtain, with single towers at three of the corners and a possible double tower at the other, presumably defending the main entrance. There is also evidence for internal buildings against the inside of the curtain wall, with part of the interior probably being occupied by an open yard. The geophysical survey has identified a number of possible structures which may be associated with the castle, including the possible site of the drawbridge and a building in the bailey, as well as evidence for the surrounding defences.

By the time of the Civil War it is possible that the castle's defences had in part been abandoned as the site developed into more of a country house surrounded by a deer park. There is some evidence to suggest that new defences were constructed at this time, specifically on the northern side of the castle. Reports from the Civil War suggest that the Royalist defenders levelled part of the village, including the church, and evidence from the geophysical survey suggests that a former track to the west of the castle may have once been lined on either side with a number of buildings.

The results from the surveys are very encouraging and have helped to reveal a little more of one of Shropshire’s least well known castles.

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Right: Civil War re-enactment © CPAT CS02-22-32

In June 2002 a weekend event was held on the site, centred around a re-enactment by members of the English Civil War Society of the seige of Shrawardine Castle. The results from the Millenium Green Project were also presented, including a display by CPAT.


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