Construction started in May 1277 and continued until August 1282, when the castle was left unfinished for lack of money. It replaced an earlier Anglo-Norman fortification (a Motte and Bailey) built by the Marcher baron Philip de Braose, who claimed the area as a Marcher lordship. There may also have been an earlier Roman strongpoint at Caerberis (the fort of Peris) on the north side of the river Irfon near (protecting?) the original settlement.
The castle was involved in the Anglo-Welsh war of 1282-3, and particularly in the events leading up to the death of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd. The narrative is far from clear, but according to one story, Llywelyn, accompanied only by a squire, was refused entry to Builth Castle following an ambush by an Anglo-Norman war party from Hay (other sources say army from Montgomery Castle.) In Erwood - a village close to Builth Wells - he escaped from ambush by asking a smith (Madoc Coch) to turn around his horse's hooves to leave a false trail. He hid during the night in a "cave" at Aberedw rocks. He was killed on 11 December 1282 attempting to rejoin his men at Cilmeri, where a monument stands to his memory. In one version of the story he held a narrow bridge across the Irfon against the war party from Hay while his squire rode for help. In another version, perhaps more likely, he was killed by accidental chance and his body not recognised until later. The incident is sometimes referred to as the battle of Irfon Bridge.
The castle was besieged in 1294 during the revolt of Madog ap Llywelyn, and attacked by Owain Glyndŵr's forces during his revolt in the early 15th century, when it was in the charge of John Oldcastle. It was repaired in 1409, the bill being £400.
It was destroyed by fire in the 17th century. Nowadays, only the mound and ditches remain.
- Taylor, Arnold. The Welsh Castles of Edward I. The Hambledon Press, 1986, p. 3
- Taylor, Arnold. The Welsh Castles of Edward I. The Hambledon Press, 1986, p. 4
- Builth Castle castlewales.com
- Taylor, Arnold. The Welsh Castles of Edward I. The Hambledon Press, 1986, p. 7
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