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Bro Trefaldwyn Historic Landscape

Historic Landscape Characterisation

Bro Trefaldwyn

The Administrative Landscape

The historic landscape area is thought to have fallen within the territory of the Cornovii, a pre-Roman tribe whose capital following the Roman conquest was established at Wroxeter. Continued occupation of the Roman fort at The Gaer, near Forden, until the 4th century suggests that like much of Wales the area continued to be administered by the Roman army until the later Roman period, unlike the areas further east where civilian administration, based on the tribal capital, had probably already become established by the end of the 1st century.

The origins of the British kingdom of Powys are obscure, though it had evidently once been more extensive, sources of perhaps the mid 9th century reflecting memories that its territory had extended to the river Tern at Wroxeter in the days before it had become part of the Anglo-kingdom of Mercia. By the middle of the 7th century the boundaries of Mercia probably extended towards what are now the western boundaries of Shropshire, possibly by a process of alliance and agreement rather than outright aggression. By the late 8th century the western boundary of the kingdom was defined by the dyke which had, again possibly by agreement, been built before the death of by King Offa in 796. During the course of perhaps the 9th and 10th centuries Mercian settlements had been established to the west of the dyke, taking Mercian territory to the eastern bank of the Severn in the area between Montgomery and Forden and controlling the fording points across this stretch of the river. Political alliances between the Welsh and English kingdoms remained unsettled throughout this time, with periods of help and cooperation alternating with raiding and skirmishes. A period of unrest between Gruffudd ap Llywelyn of the royal house of Gwynedd and Mercia in the early 1040s was probably the cause of the abandonment of several dozen Mercian settlements on both sides of the dyke throughout practically the whole area of Bro Trefaldwyn some time before the Norman Conquest in 1066.

At the time that the Domesday Book was compiled in 1086 the boundary between the areas held by the English and Welsh remained unstable, the English territories that had been lost during the reign of Edward the Confessor being in the process of being regained by the Norman earl, Roger of Montgomery in the years after 1070. Roger had been given the earldom of Shropshire and acted with royal authority in this semi-autonomous realm on the Welsh border, a prototype of the marcher lordships that later became instituted in the borderland, building castles at Shrewsbury and Montgomery. He settled Roger Corbet in the middle border, and also moved into Wales, taking Arwystli, Ceri and Cydewain and drawing significant income from an unspecified district of Wales.

At the time of Domesday the area fell within the hundred of Witentreu which spanned the modern county boundary between Powys (Montgomeryshire) and Shropshire, of which Chirbury was the chief manor. The name of the hundred still survives in Wittery hamlet and Wittery Bridge just to the east of Chirbury. With the exception of Churchstoke the area encompassed by the historic landscape area of Bro Trefaldwyn was included in Domesday Book as part of the castlery of Montgomery and so was already not fully in Shropshire. Earl Roger died in 1094, and following the rebellion of his son his holdings came into the hands of Henry I. The earldom of Shrewsbury disappeared and Shropshire became a royal shire. The earlier Norman conquests of Cydewain was lost and the Domesday hundred of Witentreu was reduced in size and became the hundred of Chirbury, named after the royal manor, while the western half was divided between the lordships of Montgomery, conferred on Baldwin de Boulers by Henry I, and Halcetor and the Welshry of Upper Gorddwr dependent on the Corbets, lords of Caus.

From 1102 the estates earlier associated with Montgomery formed the small lordship of Montgomery, granted to Baldwin de Boulers with its centre at Montgomery, inherited through succession during most of the 12th century, a period of continuing unrest and short-lived alliances long the Welsh border. To exploit rivalries between the kingdoms of Powys and Gwynedd, King John granted the lordship of Montomery to Gwenwynwyn, prince of Powys. Gwenwynwyn was swiftly removed by Llywelyn ap Iorwerth of Gwynedd with whom he had broken allegiance in 1216, the year of Henry III's accession. With the consent of the new king, Llywelyn retained the custody of Powys and the lordship of Montgomery until 1223, when hostilities broke out between Llywelyn and neighbouring English lords. Work began immediately on the construction of a new royal stone castle at Montgomery and the lordship was retained by the crown. Offa's Dyke was fixed as the boundary between Chirbury hundred and Montgomery lordship in 1233.

At the time of the Act of Union in 1536 the crown had possession of the lordships of Gorddwr, Montgomery, Halcetor, King's Teirtref, Bishop's Teirtref, Kerry and Hopton which were allocated to Montgomeryshire and the lordship of Chirbury which was allocated by the Act to Shropshire.

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