gramme of investigation into the early history of the castle, and with the aid of a grant from the Institute, a section was cut across a chord of the motte. This showed conclusively that the mound was a primary feature of the earthworks, and had been built by cutting the circular surrounding ditch and piling first the turf and then the clay from the outside edge towards the centre. This cutting also showed, to our surprise, that there was no palisade running up the motte towards the presumed tower on the top, but that there was a palisade (of many periods) round the bottom of the mound.
framed buildings of later medieval times. Though the pottery cannot yet be closely dated none is typical of the 14th century in the region and it therefore seems very probable that the site went out of use by c. 1300. The impression given by this last period is of a complete reorganisation of the castle under changed circumstances.
The new stone castle of Montgomery has no view westward over the Severn Valley, and it seems likely that the timber castle was refurbished as an early warning post.
Two sections were cut across the outer ditch. From one of them came two water-logged sill-beams of a framed palisade with planks 15 inches wide and 3 inches thick. The primary silting of the other section yielded half a leather ankle boot, two great toe bones and a humerus, graphic reminders of the constant petty warfare which a castle such as this provoked, though whether the remains are Welsh or Norman it is difficult to say . . .
In 1967, as part of the Royal Archaeological Institute's pro
The most remarkable fact which is emerging is that there seems to be no pottery in use on the site before c. 1125-1150. None of the earliest layers have pottery in them, and there were no sherds in the body of the motte, which sealed a sterile turf-line. Although small amounts of pre-Conquest and early Norman pottery are now recognised from Tamworth, Chester, Hereford and Worcester, there does seem to be a very long period, between the 5th and the 12th centuries, when pottery in the West Midlands and on the Welsh border was extremely scarce.
Other finds from Hen Domen are the sort one would expect from a frontier garrison — arrowheads, (one embedded in the body of the motte after whistling past a Norman ear), lance heads, knives and an axehead; spindle whorls suggesting the presence of women in the castle; a little decorative metalwork, and one coin, a cut halfpenny of John.
The impression which is building up is of a hardy, tightly-knit garrison leading a frugal and hazardous life, with few of the compensating graces of medieval society, on a border likely at any moment to erupt into bitter warfare.