WIGMORE CASTLE

The village of Wigmore is in north-west Herefordshire on the A4110, about 8 miles south-west of Ludlow and 21 miles north of Hereford.
The castle is on the hillside above the village reached by a footpath from near the church.
SO 408693

Article by Paul Remfry
For more photographs and detail on the history of Wigmore Castle see
http://www.castlewales.com/wigmore.html
http://www.castles99.ukprint.com/Essays/wigmore.html

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Photo: Andrew Tivenan

Wigmore castle stands a few miles from the current boundary between England and Wales. This, one of the largest of castles, was founded by Earl William Fitz Osbern in the period between his being made Earl of Hereford, soon after Christmas 1066 and his death at the battle of Cassel in Flanders on 22 February 1071. The castle was built over the lands of two Saxons who lost their estates during the Norman conquest of England. After Earl William's death his son, Roger of Breteiul was imprisoned for life in 1075 after a failed rebellion against the Conqueror.

By 1086 King William I had granted the fortress to Ralph Mortimer (d1115) as the caput* of a series of estates that were later to be known as the barony or honour of Wigmore. According to the Wigmore genealogy Ralph had obtained the castle by besieging Edric Silvaticus within the fortress. If this refers to the rebellion of Earl Roger, which is possible, this would date the Mortimer's acquisition of Wigmore to 1075. From then until 1425 the castle remained the cradle of the Mortimer family, although the fortress was increasingly eclipsed from 1308 by Ludlow castle which became the Mortimer's new seat of government in the Welsh Marches.

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Photo: Paul Farmer (Creative Commons Attribute-ShareAlike 2.0 Licence)

In the Civil War of 1642-46 Wigmore castle was patched up and placed in a state of defence, but it became too difficult to hold securely and was therefore 'slighted', ending its long and noble career. Today the massive site is covered by the ruins and ditches of the fortress. It boasts the remains of a great keep of which a single skeletal finger still points skywards on top of the giant motte. The outer keep contains the remains of two rectangular and one semi-circular turret, an arrangement echoed in the inner ward enceinte below. The castle gatehouse stands three storeys high and welcomes visitors to the still overgrown fortress of the Mortimers.

*The Latin word caput, meaning literally "head"

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Photo: Nicky Griffiths