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Abergavenny Castle (Monmouthshire, Wales)

Updated: Jul 3, 2018

Abergavenny Castle was founded c. 1087 by Norman Lorn Hamelin de Bulun.

Originally built with a wooden keep, surrounded by palisades and a ditch, a stone keep was built around 1100. In the 1160s the castle came into the de Braose family, and in 1175 William de Braose carried out what is now known as the Abergavenny Massacre.

The Abergavenny Massacre happened at the end of 1175. William de Braose, 4th Lord of Bramber, lured three Welsh Princes (and their accompanying sons and attendants), along with other Welsh Lords, to their deaths at Abergavenny. The most commonly named and primary target of this attack was Seisyll ap Dyfnwal , a lord of Upper Gwent. William de Braose held Seisyll responsible for the death of his uncle Henry Fitzmiles, another Marcher Lord.

Having invited these Welsh Lords to Abergavenny Castle for a Christmas Feast under the pretense of peace and reconciliation, he barred the doors and had his men cut down the Welsh guests. Once they were dead he made his way to Seisyll's land by horse and he executed the slain Lord's only son, a mere 7 years old at the time.

For his actions de Braose earned himself the name 'The Ogre of Abergavveny'; the de Braose name became a byword for treachery, and William de Braose was retired from public life with his son subsequently taking over the castle.

(William de Braose, 4th Lord of Bramber, is also rumoured to either be involved with or at least have had knowledge of the disappearance of Arthur I, Duke of Brittany, who he had captured in 1202.)

In 1182 the castle was attacked by Hywel ap Iorwerth, lord of Caerleon, in retribution of the massacre. As a result the castle was burnt and the men inside taken hostage. The castle was rebuilt in 1190 with 5 towers along the curtain walls, and western towers were added in the 13th & 14th centuries when the castle passed into the hands of the Hastings family.

In 1404, during the rebellion of Owain Glyndŵr, the town of Abergavenny was sacked and burned by Welsh forces. The gatehouse the remains today was likely built around this time.

By the 15th century the castle was uninhabited and falling into ruin. In 1819 a hunting lodge was built on the top of the motte where the keep once was, and this structure remains to this day and functions as a museum.

The castle and museum are free entry. Parking is pay & display car parks locally.

Pictures taken June 2018

Castle Site Plan

Mike Salter Abergavenny Castle Site Plan

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