The Heirs to the Conquest

William Rufus at War with the Welsh

The Norman keep at Goodrich Castle (Herefordshire). (Photo: © Philip Dixon)By the end of the 11th century the Normans had been advancing slowly into Wales for some years often on the initiative of local lords. Castles were to be found in every town and village in the borderland. The Normans preferred to settle in the fertile lowland areas leaving the independent Welsh rulers in the highland regions. At the beginning of William Rufus’s reign the southern part of the frontier between England and Wales lay on the River Usk with important castles at Clifford and Wigmore. In north Wales the Earl of Chester had conquered a great deal of territory in the 1070s and 1080s and had built castles at Bangor and Caernafon. In William Rufus’s reign the Norman advance into Wales continued. The Earl of Shrewsbury, Robert of Montgomery, reached Ceredigion in the west and built a castle at Pembroke. By the end of the 11th century the whole of south Wales was in Norman hands leaving only Powys and Gwynedd independent.

previous page    next page