Skenfrith Castle (Monmouthshire, Wales)
Updated: Jan 15, 2019
Skenfrith Castle (Castell Ynysgynwraidd) is one of the 'Three Castles', along with Grosmont Castle and White Castle.
The original earthwork and timber fortifications were constructed after the Norman Conquest in 1066, most likely by the Earl of Hereford William fitz Osbern. It became tied with White Castle and Grosmont Castle after an 1135 Welsh revolt by King Stephen, who restructured the lordship in the area and bought it under crown control to create the 'Three Castles' to help subdue the Welsh.
In 1201 Hubert de Burgh was given the 'Three Castles' and started to upgrade Grosmont Castle, but was captured while fighting in France. King John then gave the castles to the Burgh family rival William de Braose, who King John subsequently fell out with and dispossessed of his lands. His son, however, (also a William) managed to retake the castles during the First Barons War... only for the released Hubert de Burgh to get his land back! (De Burgh was released in 1207 and spent some years regaining his grip on power, becoming Royal Justiciar and Earl of Kent before retaking his castles in 1219).
Under de Burgh's care Skenfrith was completely rebuilt. He leveled the old castle and replaced it with the new rectangular curtain walls and round keep that is still present today.
The castle bounced around ownership after 1232, when de Burgh was stripped of his castles after falling out of grace. A new chapel was built in 1244. It saw no action despite the welsh threat although it was garrisoned in 1262, and after 1282 it was of little military use and primarily served an administrative purpose.
By 1538 the castle was a decayed ruin.
In the present day the castle is owned by the National Trust and managed by CADW. It is free to access during daylight hours, but as it is unmanned and not fenced you could actually visit and any time of the day. There's a small amount of parking available on the west side of the site.
Pictures were taken in February 2018.
Castle Site Plan