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Skenfrith Castle

Visited March 2012

Location Skenfrith, Monmouthshire
Entrance Fee No
Railway Station Nearby No
Parking Yes
Facilities None



Skenfrith Castle is right in the middle of the small village of Skenfrith in Monmouthshire. Along with Grosmont Castle and White Castle it formed a defensive ring around the volatile border region between England and Wales. Known collectively as 'The Three Castles' they were combined under the same Lordship in the early part of the 12th century, and remained in joint ownership until the early twentieth century, when they were sold off to separate owners. These days they have been united once more as they are all under the care of CADW, and visiting the three on the same day is a pleasant trip.





The castle as it stands today is mainly the work of the Norman Lord Hubert de Burgh, between 1219 & 1232. Remains of an earlier castle on the sight have been found beneath the present day castle. There is an impressive amount of curtain wall still intact , however the original entrance to the castle, which would have been through a simple arched doorway, is now nothing more than a gap in the walling. There are three of the original four corner towers still standing, and the later tower added to the middle of the western side wall. There is also a water gate which leads out to the River Monnow which runs along the eastern side of the castle.





Once inside the castle walls, the main feature is the round keep,  on a mound in the middle of the castle . The keep was not actually built onto the motte, as first would appear, but the mound was earthed up around the tower after it was built. Consequently this gave the tower a basement area underneath ground level, in addition to the two upper floors. The entrance to the keep was through an arched door, halfway up the wall, with a wooden staircase up to it. This gave access to the upper floors, the basement was probably reached via a trapdoor in the floor. The keep is still in quite good shape, although a ground floor door was cut through at some point and has now fallen in so that the instead of two doors there is one big gap in the masonry.





The castle is quite compact and easy to explore, it seems quite popular with school groups too if you visit weekdays in term time. However, the village of Skenfrith is small and quite limited. There did not appear to be any public toilets, and although there is a village pub near the castle, it seems to be more of a gastro-pub judging by the prices. If you are visiting the three castles together, then I would make this either the first or last stop, and definitely put Grosmont Castle as the middle stop, as it has the most facilities in the village.





More info: CADW Skenfrith Castle

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