Last Photographed: Friday 14th July 2006
After the Norman conquest, William the Conqueror handed out lands along the Welsh borders - or The March - to nobles who became know as the Marcher Lords. These lords still owed fealty to their monarch, but they ruled free from the jurisdiction of the king, administering their lands as they saw fit. They were not held subject to royal law. Most importantly, they were able to build castles at will - a right that was not enjoyed by their English counterparts who had to apply to the king for the "right to crenelate". They were also free to wage war at will - another right not enjoyed by their contemporaries.
Today, the Welsh border is still referred to as 'The Marches' and is littered with the ruins of the castles built by these Norman lords. Clun Castle is one of the lesser known Marcher fortifications, built by Robert de Say sometime after 1140AD.
Clun Castle saw military action a number of times during its occupancy - a fact not unrelated to the volatile nature of the border region. In 1270AD it was abandoned as a residence by the Fitzalan family in favour of Arundel castle. Although neglected, it appears to have survived as a fortification until the 1400s when it was once again attacked - this time by Owain Glyndwr. This is the last record that survives, so it's reasonable to assume that the castle subsequently fell into decay.
Today, the ruins of Clun Castle sit atop a steep hill, overlooking the village of Clune like a brooding carrion bird. It's easy to appreciate how this location would have been selected for its strategic value, with the fortifiable hill providing commanding views over the surrounding landscape and easily converted into a motte.
This is a quiet corner of a beautifully tranquil landscape, slightly removed from the rest of England. The Welsh Marches remain somewhat of an oddity even today, seeming to belong neither in this age nor the last, a sleepy and forgotten backwater happy in its position away from the beaten track, a dreamy reminder of less complicated times.