Living in Sussex, the whole 1066 thing on the doorstep. The Normans had to make their mark fast, and in West Sussex this means Roger de Montgomery. As a loyal kinsman of the Conqueror, he was entrusted with the government of Normandy in William’s absence. He contributed 60 ships to the invasion fleet and, in return, received extensive lands in England following his arrival the following year.
As one of William’s most loyal and trusted noblemen, he was given strategic territories. Swathes of the South Coast to protect against any other chancer invading ever again! He built motte and bailey castles in strategic locations. These were earth mounds with wooden structures. Quite a few mounds survive but Arundel Castle proved to have an excellent location and there has been a Castle above the River Arun since 1067, still a residence to this day.
In the longer term, the Welsh Marches were far more strategically important. Roger built a motte and bailey at Shrewsbury Castle in 1069 and was made Earl of Shrewsbury in 1074. Other Castles were constructed for his ‘aggressive pacification’ of mid-Wales. This included the Hen Domen motte, predecessor to Montgomery Castle, around 1070. He also built the first wooden castle at Pembroke in 1093.
He was a great patron of the monasteries, replacing a Saxon minister with a Norman building at Wenlock Priory. He also built Shrewsbury Abbey in 1083, and entered the Abbey as a monk in 1094, three days before he died. A tomb effigy can still be viewed here that is believed to be that of Roger.
Shrewsbury Museum is a little gem and the rather splendid head was photographed there….