FOR centuries the land between Welshpool and Montgomery had been the frontier between the Norman Marcher Lords and Welsh princes who had battled for supremacy.

While Montgomery Castle, Powis Castle in Welshpool and even the remnants of Dolforwyn Castle remain popular tourist attractions to this day, these are not the only castles to have stood in the Vale of Kerry which separated them.

Standing 600ft high in a secluded valley above the woods known as Cwm y Rhiwdre and Cwm Garth Heilyn, stood Neuadd Goch. It was once part of the Garth Heilyn township and formed the boundary between Kerry and Mochdre and recorded to be a rich deer hunting ground.

Meanwhile 500 yards south of the village of Kerry stood another old 'motte' and bailey castle, known simply as the Kerry Moat. It is thought the modern day village descended from the moat.

Kerry Church. Picture by Philip Halling/Wiki.

Kerry Church. Picture by Philip Halling/Wiki.

The castle was the capital of the 'Ceri commote' and built by Madoc ap Idnerth in 1140.

Madoc had been an ally of Owain Gwynedd and helped drive the Normans from Ceredigion in 1136 and would continue to fight the Mortimer family which grew in power as one of the most prominent Marcher Lords.

Then there is the castle of Tomen Madoc which is believed to have once formed the boundary between Kerry and Cedewain before these two commotes became one toward the end of the 13th century.

However of all Kerry’s ancient earthworks the Bishop’s Moat is the most impressive. Standing at 1,100 ft it is Montgomeryshire’s highest castle and would also be known as the Red Castle.

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It fell to Llywelyn Fawr in 1233 who proceeded to attack Brecon and Oswestry in the same year as part of his uprising against the English.

The vale is also home to Old Hall Camp, also known as Castell Machaethlon, but is perhaps better known as Hubert’s Folly. It is claimed to be the ruins of a castle left unbuilt by Hubert de Burgh during the Ceri Campaign of 1228.

The site lies in the township of Bachaethlon, on a northward-thrusting spur overlooking the vale with the hamlet of Sarn on the valley floor a mile to the north.

The River Mule curves near of the castle and provides a narrow valley route through the Cefn-y-Coed ridge to the Severn at Abermule. On the higher ground is the Kerry Ridgeway and Bishop's Moat.

Kerry Ridgeway. Picture by Philip Halling/Geograph.

Kerry Ridgeway. Picture by Philip Halling/Geograph.

The brief history of Hubert's Folly begins in April, 1228, when Hubert de Burgh was granted the new castle at Montgomery.

The hills of Montgomery on the borders of Kerry were thickly wooded, affording good cover to marauding groups of dissident Welshmen. In August, Hubert's men began to drive a wide path through the forest when they were attacked by a party of Welshmen, who drove them back to Montgomery and besieged the castle.

King Henry III led an army to Montgomery, ending the siege as the Welsh took flight. Henry’s army ventured further inland and camped in the vale while burning down the forest to smoke out the Welsh.

Hubert looked to build a castle but his camp had come under attack from the forces of Llewellyn Fawr who captured William de Breos in the Vale of Kerry

Peace was declared and Hubert’s castle was levelled on the orders of Llewellyn. William de Breos would eventually ally with Llywellyn only to be executed when he was discovered in the bed chamber of Llywellyn's wife, Joan, in 1230.

A year later Llywellyn burnt the castles of Montgomery, Powis, New Radnor, Hay and Brecon, and forced King Henry into recognising his authority over Wales for the rest of his life.