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Footprints - Borderlands

In 1086 a great survey was held of all lands controlled by the King of England.  Revealed in this Domesday Book are the limits of Norman power.  The land around Gresford and Marford and settlements in the Maelor are shown as Norman controlled territory.  The border, though, was never stable.

By 1161 there was a Norman motte and bailey castle at 'Wristlesham', to accompany those at Marford and Overton.  Its remains are in the grounds of Erddig.  These castles did not guarantee Norman rule.

Tomen y Rhoddwyd motte and bailey castle, near Llandegla. Similar castles were built at Marford, Chirk, Overton & Erddig. - ©National Monuments Record of Wales

The princes of Powys conquered this area in the early 12th century.
According to tradition, Henry II led his forces up the Ceiriog Valley along the "road of the English" in 1165.  He had to retreat, defeated by the weather and the constant attacks of the local Welsh forces.

The princes of Powys skilfully dealt with their aggressive neighbours, Gwynedd and England.  The stability they created allowed Wrexham to develop as a trading town.  In the 13th century Madog ap Gruffudd, one of these princes, gave land in Wrexham to the new abbey at Valle Crucis.  The abbots’ priests served in the new church on the site of St Giles’s, and their tenants built the mill at Pentrefelin.

Hugh, Osbern and Reginald hold Gresford. Thored held it as a free man. Land for 12 ploughs. A church and a priest, 7 villagers, 12 smallholders and one Frenchman. Woodland 4 leagues long and 2 wide, 2 hawk’s eyries. Osbern has a mill which grinds corn for his hall. Before 1066 it was all waste.

Cheshire Domesday, 1086

O golli Madawg edgyllaeth cofion
Gwyw calon gan hiraeth.
Marwnad Fadawg ap Gruffudd Maelor,
Einion Wan, 1236

Lament for the Death of Madog ap Gruffudd Maelor, Einion Wan, 1236