Primary Reference Number (PRN) : 16152 Trust : Clwyd Powys Site Type : Settlement Period : Multiperiod Community : Beguildy NGR : SO2507674198 Legal Protection :
Description : 1 Location
1.1 Cnwclas Castle, 4km north-west of Knighton, rests on a prominent hill that forms the terminal of the spur between the River Teme and its tributary, the Ffrwdwen Brook. On the further side of the brook in the lee of Castle Hill is the village of Knucklas, just above the valley floor.
2.1 The Welsh name of this settlement is Cnwclas meaning apparently 'green mound'.
2.2 Beyond the eastern edge of the present settlement, the site of a battle in 1146 AD (PAR 1143) is commemorated in the name 'Bloody Field'.
2.3 The castle was built by the second Hugh Mortimer in c.1220-25, but was destroyed by Llywelyn in 1262, and again by Owen Glyndwr in 1402. Very much later towards the end of the 19th century, it provided a convenient source of stone for Knucklas viaduct.
2.4 There are documentary references to a town here in the Middle Ages, but substantive ground evidence is absent. Soulsby, indeed, suggests that the settlement may have declined terminally after 1262 for the castle was apparently not refurbished.
2.5 It was one of five boroughs returning a joint Member of Parliament in 1536, burgages were recorded in 1649, and as late as the second quarter of the 19th century it was still recognised as a borough under the control of a bailiff and burgesses with a court house. The village then consisted only of a dozen or so cottages, 'mean and inconsiderable in appearance' according to Williams.
2.6 Today, it appearance is unexceptional with cottages and houses spread along the two lanes on the south side of the brook and a small estate on the road leading to Knucklas Station and an engineering works.
3 Buildings and Archaeology
3.1 Although evidence of prehistoric activity is not uncommon in the area around Knucklas, nothing has yet come to light in the settlement itself.
3.2 Cnwclas Castle (PAR 1126; SAM Radnor 85) is a medieval earthwork thrown up within what may well have been an Iron Age hillfort, distinguished as a large oval enclosure with a possible entrance on the west side (PAR 50002). A second, rather slight, inner perimeter scarp is apparent on aerial photographs and may also be prehistoric in date. A platform (PAR 50003) perhaps represents part of a masonry castle site although little stonework remains, and the hilltop has been extensively quarried. Withtin the enclosure, other platforms on the north and east remain to be dated.
3.3 Can it be assumed that the medieval borough lay between the stream and the more southerly lane? There is little supporting evidence yet it appears the most likely location.
3.4 Knucklas Viaduct (PAR 20655; Grade II listing) was built in c.1883 (1864 in another source) with thirteen masonry arches and a battlemented parapet: its style is 'insipid gothic' according to RCAHMW.
Radnorshire Society Field Section , 2008 , Radnorshire's Industrial Heritage and Folk History