Abergavenny Castle

Abergaveny Castle



Location: Aberregavenny, Monmouthshire Map


Description of Abergaverny Castle

Abergaverny Castle is located in Abergavenny, Monmouthshire in south east Wales.  The wooden fortress of Abergaverny Castle was erected here in 1075 by Norman baron Hamelin de Balun by the order of William the Conqueror. Shortly after Norman conquest William needed a series of citadels around the country to secure his position on the island. Around 1090 stone castle was build here to secure this important location. In the 12th through 14th century the Abergavenny Castle sees a lot of action between English and Welsh armies. Most of towers and walls were rebuild around this time. Remains of the castle's gates were added in the 1400's to replace badly damaged previous entrance. The final blow to the castle happened during English Civil War. Parliamentary troops destroyed the citadel and ever since it lay in ruins.


Hamelin de Ballon, Lord Norman , built the castle in about 1087. Protected by a ditch and a palisade , the mound was surmounted by a wooden dungeon . Shortly after 1100, a stone keep was built to replace the old structure, and a wooden castle was built on its west side.

In the 1160s, Henry Fitzmiles , son of Miles of Gloucester, 1st Earl of Hereford and lord of Abergavenny, was killed by, as far as we know, Seisyll ap Dyfnwal of Castell Arnallt. Without a male heir, Henry Fitzmilese's estate and seigneury, which included land in Upper Gwent and Brecknockshire , as well as the castle, were passed on to the husband of his daughter Bertha, William II of Braose . De Braose rebuilt parts of the castle and the curtain wall some parts of which still exist today.

The castle was then the scene of an infamous massacre. During the Christmas of 1175, De Braose brought Seisyll and his son Geoffrey to the castle, along with other Gwent leaders , for alleged reconciliation. De Braose then had the men killed in the great hall of the castle, in retaliation for the death of Henry Fitzmiles. His action, which also included the appropriation of land belonging to these men, gave rise to sanctions; William was "withdrawn" from public life and the castle was passed on to his son, Guillaume . In 1182, Hywel ap Iorwerth, lord of Caerleon , ordered the destruction of Dingestow Castle and set Abergavenny Castle on fire in retaliation for the assassination of Seisyll. The attacks were carried out by Seisyll's parents. De Braose was not present at the castle when he was burned, but "most of his men" were taken hostage.

In about 1190, the castle was almost entirely rebuilt in local red sandstone to facilitate defense. Five towers were built along the curtain walls, a dungeon also saw the light of day. The English and Welsh fought for control of the Welsh marches and during this time the possession of the castle alternated between Welsh and English. In 1215, the castle welcomed John Lackland, King of England .

The xiii th to the xiv th century, the castle was enlarged by the Hastings family, with the addition of western towers providing residential housing. Two towers, a circular and a polygonal , were probably built between 1295 and 1314 by John Hastings, 1st Baron Hastings . It was at this time that taxes were collected from the local residents to finance the construction of the city walls. Between the end of xiii th century and the beginning of the XIVth century, a new wall was built.

In 1404, during the Owain Glynd┼Ár rebellion , the city of Abergavenny was pillaged and burned by the Welsh forces. The gatehouse, fortified or with a barbican - described by the architectural historian John Newman as "insignificant" - may be from the period just before or just after.

No lord lived in the castle after the xv th century. During the First English Revolution , as the Roundheads approached the castle, Charles I ordered the demolition of the castle to prevent its useful occupation. Most of the castle buildings, including the stone dungeon, were destroyed. The Raglan Castle was damaged in the same way. Stone from this site was later used for other buildings.

At the end of the xviii th century, the ruins began to attract visitors seeking views " quaint " and promenades were built into the walls of the castle. In 1819, Henry Nevill, 2nd Earl of Abergavenny, built a hunting lodge at the top of the root ball. Newman describes it as "an unattractive utility structure, brightened only by thin polygonal rods at the corners. "

A formal public garden, now included in the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens of special historic interest in England (National Register of Historic Parks and Gardens) was created later in the xix th century by William Nevill, 5th Earl of Abergavenny . It overlooked the Usk Valley, scenic walks and gardens as well as gazebos.