VISIT | One Part of the Trinity of Castles at Skenfrith Castle | Monmouthshire
Skenfrith's Castle and Monmouthshire's river Monnow
A Norman Castle in rural Monmouthshire
A delightful place to stop and stare at ancient ruins
Meander the river Monnow and let the kids run on the old castle enclosures
"...this wonderful Norman castle next to a pretty river setting..."
One of the Three Castles!
Skenfrith Castle is one of the trinity of castles in this Monmouthshire countryside. Think back many centuries ago when control was held with military force and political power. Think back to the attempts of many individuals to claim larger tracts of this island of Britain. Think back to when the lands of what we know now as Wales were dangerous and divided, rugged and stranger still. Castles were the strategic checkpoints of the late medieval period. A move-on from the ancient mounds and hillforts of our Bronze Age and Iron Age families. A step first to the beloved Motte and Bailey; and thence thanks to Norman design and ingenuity to the Stone Keep Castle and its Concentric cousin.
But castles allowed the rulers and their armies to play the game. To stay in the fight. To compete and maybe conquer. To create bigger areas of land, more control, more taxes and more power.
The site of Skenfrith Castle in part dates to the 11th century when the Norman Conquest took place. The castle site abuts the river Monnow – a handy position both defensively and offensively as a strategic position. The Norman Conquest is well known because it led to a bit of a win for the Normandy Duke more commonly known as William the Conqueror in 1066 at the Battle of Hastings. But moreover the implications of this was in the subsequent grasp for power and lands, William FitzOsbern, a powerful French lord would become Earl of Herefordshire and be gifted lands in this part of the Welsh Marches including Skenfrith, Grosmont and the other of three trinity castles – White Castle.
But the castle walls and enclosures that remain at Skenfrith are more associated with that of Hubert de Burgh. De Burgh was a power-hungry noble most closely associated with King John of Magna Carta and Robin Hood fame. He seems to have been John’s right hand man – being sent to France to fight, acting as his adviser and confidante, and being allocated lands and castles including in the Welsh Marches. The castle ruins which you now see at Skenfrith are more likely to have been made in his development of the castle in the early 13th century. But the stone keep may date from FitzOsbern’s time.
Skenfrith’s castle ruins are perfectly wonderful for anyone with a keen youngster at hand or a few friends to amble and wile away the afternoon. There is some beautiful walking along the river Monnow. And while it lacks some of the grandeur of Grosmont and White Castle, it is free to access and sits in a wonderful part of the country. So for grand castle walls, a vast stone keep, a far-ranging site in a beautiful part of the Monmouthshire countryside sat next to the slow warbling river Monnow, set your sights on Skenfrith.
Directions and Map |
Find the castle in the little riverside village of Skenfrith in rural Monmouthshire between Abergavenny and Monmouth