Skenfrith Castle, along with White and Grosmont, is one of three castles built to protect one of the main routes through the border region between England and South Wales. In the late 1130's King Stephen brought all three castles together under a single Lordship that controlled the 'Three Castles' as one defensive unit.
In the early 13th century Hubert de Burgh held the lordship of the Three Castles. He built modern stone castles at Grosmont and Skenfrith, but unlike at Grosmont where the shape and size of the castle was dictated by the old mound on which it was built, at Skenfrith the site was levelled and an entirely new castle was constructed.
The castle is built on level ground by the banks of the River Minnow. The curtain walls form a large, irregular quadrangle with round towers at each corner. There were a range of domestic buildings including a hall on the western side, and in the middle of the courtyard is a circular keep. The keep has a sloping battered base and a semi-circular projection from the wall that contained a spiral stair that led to two storeys above a basement. Earth was piled around the tower after it was completed giving the false impression that it is built on a mound.
In 1267 the Three Castles were granted to Edmund 'Crouchback', earl of Lancaster. Although all three castles were maintained by the Lancasters, only Grosmont was used as a home and further developed, leaving Skenfrith Castle pretty much as Hubert built it. Following Edward I's conquest of Wales, the military importance of the Three Castles was greatly reduced. By the 16th century all three castles had been abandoned and were falling into ruin.
- In the centre of the village of Skenfrith on the B4521
- Skenfrith Castle, Skenfrith, Abergavenny, Monmouthshire
- CADW. Free, open access at any reasonable time
- For further information visit cadw.wales.gov.uk
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