Visit Painscastle and the surrounding villages and stay in bed & breakfast accommodation:
Painscastle, Powys. South of Kadnor Forest, and above the Vale of Ewyas and the Wye. Humphrey Lhuyd sets his mountain district of Elfel with one important place marked in it on his l6th century map: Payn. Elfael (to spell it more correctly than he did) is for him a sub-province of the “Kingdom” of Powys. and one that holds the key to South Wales by defending the Wye valley from attack by way of Hereford. The outliers of the Ellennith, the vital heart of Wales, run down here to Hergest Ridge, and the importance of the area is emphasized by the way Offas Dyke is held firmly to the East of it. Both the country and its people are things apart, for Elfael is neither peat-land like Plynlimon nor crag like Snowdonia: nor is it moor like Radnor Forest, nor open pasture land like much of Cardigan and Carmarthenshire, but a network of valleys under wooded hills, fertile and removed from traffic with what is called the world. After Harald, the last Saxon, had come and gone again to die at Senlac in 1066, the Norman raided it, and Bernard of Neufmarché, who had seized Brecon from the South set up a large knight's castle on a mound under the command of Payen FitzJehan to hold the Elfael. Of this structure only the mound remains, but Payen's Castle is still the name of the village. Like all the small places about it. Painscastle in its network of lanes has a unique charm. But it deserves a further note since it was the site of what can be taken as one of the most decisive battles in the history of Wales.
In 1197, the position between the Welsh Princes and the Norman invaders had reached a stage of uneasy balance. Sixty years earlier, the Welsh under Gruffydd ap Rhys had gained a significant victory at Cardigan; Henry II found it politic to take the Lord of South Wales, another Rhys, as ally against his own ambitious baronage, and, as a result of the apparent settlement of affairs, the Lord Rhys called together the bards of all Wales to hold the first contest of music and song in honour of their common heritage at Aberteifi (Cardigan) in 1176. But the Norman Marcher Lords were still eager for plunder, and, in spite of Rhys's efforts, the three divisions of Wales - Gwynedd, the North; the Deheubarth, or South; Powys. the separate and distinct princedom of the Centre - were still following rival traditions of policy and purpose. The unity of all Wales, which for a moment Owain Gwynedd had been able to assert successfully against Henry II at Corwen and the Lord Rhys had been hopeful of confirming at Aberteifi, was in doubt.
In the same year that the first Eisteddfod of bards was held, William de Braose of Abergavenny, the cruellest of the Marcher Lords, invited the Welsh rulers of the South to his castle for a feast of peace and reconciliation. His men-at-arms fell upon his guests and killed at least seventy of them, men and women. Welsh reaction was felt throughout all Wales, but, although several of his accomplices were destroyed, De Braose survived. Twenty years later, he was able to commit a similar act of treachery by seizing Trahaiarn Fychan (the Younger), against whom he bore a grudge, tying him to a horse's tail, dragging him through the streets of Brecon. and then beheading him. Trahaiarn was a cousin of Gwenwynwyn, son of Owain Cyfeiliog, the poet and Prince of Powys. Gwenwynwyn swore oaths of blood, and took his men to besiege the fortress at Painscastle, De Braose's main strong-point. But the castle was efficiently held. And the Princes of Powys had been extending their power into Cardigan and the South in a way that the family of Rhys resented. The Normans found one of them to raise the South against Gwenwynwyn and at Painscastle the men of the Deheubarth and the Marcher Lords destroyed the men of Powys utterly. Trahaiarn went unavenged; and worse, the hope for a united Wales received its deathblow.
Nearby towns: Builth Wells, Hay-on-Wye, Kington, Talgarth
Nearby villages: Aberedw, Alltmawr, Bettws Disserth, Boughrood, Bronllys, Clifford, Clyro, Colva, Cregrina, Crickadarn, Erwood, Gladestry, Glasbury, Glascwm, Gwenddwr, Hergest, Hundred House, Huntington, Huntington, Llandefalle, Llanfaredd, Llanfihangel-nant-Melan, Llanigon, Llanstephan, Llowes, Llyswen, Newchurch, Rhosgoch, Velindre
Have you decided to visit Painscastle or the surrounding villages? Please look above for somewhere to stay in:
- a Painscastle bed and breakfast (a Painscastle B&B or Painscastle b and b)
- a Painscastle guesthouse
- a Painscastle hotel (or motel)
- a Painscastle self-catering establishment, or
- other Painscastle accommodation