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Mathrafal near Welshpool, in Powys, Mid Wales, was the seat of the Kings and Princes of Powys probably from the 9th century until its destruction in 1212 by Llywelyn ap Iorwerth of Gwynedd.



Mathrafal is located about six miles northwest of Welshpool at the junction of the A495 and B4389 on the banks of the River Banwy.


The site known today as "Mathrafal Castle" is a roughly 100 m square rectangular compound defended by ditches. Little remains of the original walls. Little is known about what the original structure looked like, however the reports of the excavations of University of York in 1991 provide a little insight;

"The twelfth season of excavation showed that the castle can still produce new features and artefacts of interest: namely the vaulted cellar and its forecourt, the curving inner face of the North Tower, and, most spectacularly, the figurine of St Gwynllym. The North Tower and the area between it and the north ditch provided the greatest interest. The back (south) wall of the Tower was exposed and was still standing to at least 2m high. There was a splayed window opening, centrally placed in this wall, and it was in a cavity in the window base that the figurine was excavated by Richard Thomas. The artefact, in iron and bronze, was a discovery of the first significance."[1]

The remaining structures probably date from their construction around the 11th century and probably replaced an earlier hillfort, about 1 km away, which may date from around the time of the fall of the neighbouring Kingdom of Pengwern in the 7th century, or perhaps as early as 520 when the capital of Powys was moved from the old Roman town of Viroconium Cornoviorum (Wroxeter). Prince Gwenwynwyn ab Owain of Powys moved his capital from Mathrafal to Welshpool (Y Trallwng) after it was destroyed during warfare between Powys and Gwynedd in 1212.


  • John Davies, History of Wales, Penguin Books, 1990, 1993.

External links

Coordinates: 52°41′16″N 3°17′11″W / 52.6878°N 3.2865°W / 52.6878; -3.2865



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