Upper Castlewright Cottage is in Wales but Shropshire and the English border are just a metre or so beyond the back wall of the building.
More ancient than today’s Welsh border is Offa’s Dyke, which crosses the lane just 400 metres to the west of the cottage. Built by the Anglo Saxon King Offa in the 8th century, the dyke formed a military frontier with the kingdom of Powys. The dyke on the Welsh side was originally up to 20 metres wide and 2.4 metres high, with displaced soil forming a bank on the Mercian side. A long distance footpath following the route of Offa’s Dyke was opened in 1971, covering 177 miles from Prestatyn in the north to the Severn Estuary near Chepstow.
Most ancient of all is the Kerry Ridgeway (Ffordd Las Ceri) which dates back to the Bronze Age. Running right past our front door, the 15-mile Ridgeway never drops below 330 metres in elevation, resulting in magnificent views as far as Snowdon and Cadair Idris on a clear day. Drovers used this ancient road to take animals to market in England, stopping for sustenance at one of two inns on the Ridgeway - our cottage and the nearby Dog & Duck.
Upper Castlewright is believed to date from the 15th or 16th centuries. In the mid-1800s, it was known as the Britannia Inn. Drovers could keep their horses in what is now the garden on the opposite side of the road, while their animals were penned into the adjacent field. The name Castlewright is thought to refer to the builders of a nearby fortified house, perhaps linked to Bishop's Castle at the English end of the Ridgeway.
By the end of the last century, the building was unoccupied and in very poor condition with no running water or electricity. In 2005, new owners planned and executed a renovation, undertaken by local builders with a reputation for respecting and retaining the character of historic buildings while bringing them up to modern standards. The building was extended to the rear, creating space for the downstairs bathroom, the modern staircase and roof lights bringing in more daylight. It was fully insulated and connected to mains water and electricity. The current owners, Martina Chamberlain and Julian Rose, took over in 2017.