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The first recorded reference to the town in 1161 is to a Norman motte and bailey castle at "Wristlesham" which was likely founded in the Erddig area around 1150 by Hugh de Avranches, earl of Chester.
Stability under the princes of Powys enabled Wrexham to develop as a trading town and administrative centre of one of the two commotes making up the Lordship.
Following the Welsh reconquest of the area during the 11th century, Wrexham formed part of the native Welsh lordship of Maelor.
During the 12th century the lordship was disputed between the Welsh and the English.
In 1202 Madoc ap Gruffydd Maelor, Lord of Dinas Brân, granted some of his demesne lands in ‘Wrechcessham’ to his newly founded Cistercian abbey of Valle Crucis and in 1220 the earliest reference to a church in Wrexham is made.
Wrexham increased in importance throughout the Middle Ages as the lordship's administrative centre, and the town's position made it a suitable centre for the exchange of the produce of the Dee valley and Denbighshire uplands, whilst iron and lead were also mined locally. 1493) wrote of Sion ap Madog, the great-nephew of Owain Glyndŵr, as Alecsander i Wrecsam (an Alexander for Wrexham).
The Anglo-Saxons went on to dominate north-east Wales from the 8th to 10th centuries and the settlement of Wrexham was likely founded by Mercian colonists on the flat ground above the meadows of the River Gwenfro during the 8th century.
The origins of the name "Wrexham" may possibly be traced back to this period.