The peaceful South Wales town of Hay-on-Wye offers few clues today of its brutal past on a violent frontier. A monument to this history can be found in Hay Castle. Once right on the border between England and Wales, it sits in a region densely packed with castles that saw border skirmishes and bitter warfare for centuries.
Known as the Welsh Marches, this borderland attracted tough people seeking their fortune at the expense of the Welsh people. There are few better examples of these folk than William and Matilda de Braose, the Lord and Lady of Hay. Their story is steeped in blood and myth before a dramatic and gory fall from favour.
Open to the public for the first time in its 900 year history, Matt Lewis visited Hay Castle to find out what it can reveal about life in England’s medieval Wild West.