White Castle (Monmouthshire, Wales)
Updated: Jul 3, 2018
White Castle was built shortly after the Norman Invasion by William FitzOsbern, Earl of Hereford, as a timber and earthwork structure. It became tied with Grosmont Castle and Skenfrith 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).
Primarily a military fortification, during the 13th Century the castle was almost entirely rebuilt (although there's some debate as to specifically when in this century). The programme of work consisted of the keep being demolished, a new gatehouse and four mural towers constructed and the outer ward reinforced with a stone wall and gatehouse of its own. It's at this point that the castle was first referred to as 'White' because of the white rendering applied to its external walls.
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 for the surrounding manor.
Much like it's two cohorts, by 1538 the castle was a decayed ruin.
In the present day White Castle is managed by CADW. it is an unmanned site that has access during daylight hours and a minimal amount of parking immediately outside. The track to reach the castle is narrow, potholed, and steep... so not an ideal place to visit in adverse weather conditions!
Pictures were taken in February 2018.
Castle Site Plan