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Chepstow Castle
Well Preserved Medieval Spur Castle in Wales

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Chepstow Castle is the oldest surviving stone fortification in Britain. It was built on the the instructions of the Norman lord William fitzOsbern, soon to be made Earl of Hereford.

The castle was started in 1067, and was to become the southernmost of King Edward I's "iron ring" of castles built along the English-Welsh border in the Welsh Marches.

Today Chepstow Castle is open to the public, and since 1984 has been in the care of Cadw. There are special events held often in the castle and visitors are able to walk along the battlements and into Martens Tower.


Chepstow Castle
Bridge Street
Chepstow NP16 5EZ

Telephone from the UK: 01291 624065
Telephone from the US: 010 44 1291 624065
Telephone from France: 00 44 1291 624065
Telephone from other countries: +44 (0)1291 624065

Fax: 01291 624065



Google Maps


Small scale map showing the location of
Chepstow Castle

Google map showing the location of
Chepstow Castle

Large scale map showing
Chepstow Castle


In Welsh Chepstow Castle is known as Cas-gwent. It is located in Chepstow, Monmouthshire in Wales, on top of cliffs overlooking the River Wye.

The speed with which William the Conqueror committed to the creation of a castle at Chepstow reflects its strategic importance. It was an important crossing point on the River Wye, a major artery of communications inland to Monmouth and Hereford. At the time, the Welsh kingdoms in the area were independent of the English Crown and the castle in Chepstow would also have helped prevent the Welsh from attacking Gloucestershire along the Severn shore towards Gloucester. FitzOsbern also founded a priory nearby, and the associated market town and port of Chepstow developed over the next few centuries. The castle and the associated Marcher lordship were generally known as Striguil until the late 14th century, and as Chepstow thereafter.

Wood in the doors of the gatehouse has been dated by dendrochronology to 1159-89. Fortifications were added by the great William Marshal, Earl of Pembroke, starting in the 1190s. Marshal extended and modernised the castle, drawing on his knowledge of warfare gained in France and during the Crusades. He built the present main gatehouse, strengthened the defences of the Middle Bailey with round towers, and, before his death in 1219, may also have rebuilt the Upper Bailey defences. Further work to expand the Great Tower was undertaken by William Marshal's sons William, Richard, Gilbert and Walter, in the period to 1245.

In 1270, the castle was inherited by Roger Bigod, 5th Earl of Norfolk. He constructed a new range of buildings in the Lower Bailey, as accommodation for himself and his family. Bigod was also responsible for building Chepstow's town wall, the "Port Wall", around 1274-78. The castle was visited by King Edward I in 1284, at the end of his triumphal tour through Wales. Soon afterwards, Bigod had a new tower (which much later became known as "Marten's Tower") built and also remodelled the Great Tower. Marten’s Tower dominates the landward approach to the castle.

From the 14th century, and in particular the end of the wars between England and Wales in the early 15th century, the castle’s defensive importance declined. In 1312 it passed into the control of Thomas de Brotherton, Earl of Norfolk, and later to his daughter Margaret. It was garrisoned in response to the rebellion of Owain Glyndwr in 1403 with twenty men-at-arms and sixty archers but its great size, limited strategic importance, geographical location and the size of its garrison all probably contributed to Glyndwr's forces avoiding attacking it.

In 1468, the castle was part of the estates granted by the Earl of Norfolk to William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke in exchange for lands in the east of England. In 1508, it passed to Sir Charles Somerset, later the Earl of Worcester, who remodelled the buildings extensively as private accommodation. From the 16th century, after the abolition of the Marcher lords' autonomous powers by King Henry VIII through the Laws in Wales Acts of 1535 and 1542, and Chepstow's incorporation as part of the new county of Monmouthshire, the castle was adapted for occupation as a great house.

The castle saw action again during the English Civil War, when it was in the front line between Royalist Monmouthshire and Parliamentarian Gloucestershire. It was held by the Royalists and besieged in both 1645 and in 1648, falling to the Parliamentarian forces on 25 May 1648.

After the civil war, the castle was garrisoned and maintained as an artillery fort and barracks. It was also used as a political prison. Its occupants included Bishop Jeremy Taylor, and after the Restoration of the monarchy Henry Marten, one of the Commissioners who signed the death warrant of Charles I, who was imprisoned in a tower here before his own death in 1680. Henry Marten gave his name to what we now know as Marten’s Tower.

In 1682, the castle came into the ownership of the Duke of Beaufort. The garrison was disbanded in 1685, and the buildings were partly dismantled, leased to tenants and left to decay. Parts of the castle were used as a farmyard and a glass factory.

Chepstow Castle, from B. B Woodward’s History of Wales (1853),
drawn by H.Gastineau, engraved by H. W. Bond, image courtesy of

By the late 18th century, its ruins became, with other sites in the Wye valley, a "Picturesque" feature on the "Wye tour", pleasure boat trips down the river from Ross-on-Wye via Monmouth. The first guide book to the castle and town published in 1793.

By the 1840s, tourism was growing, particularly with day trips on steam ships from Bristol. At the same time, the courtyard of the castle began to be used for local horticultural shows, fêtes, and, increasingly from the 1880s, historical pageants sanctioned by the Duke of Beaufort. He tried to sell the castle in 1899, but no buyer could be found.

In 1914 the castle was bought by businessman William Royse Lysaght, of Tutshill, and conservation work began. In 1953, the Lysaght family put the castle into the care of the Ministry of Works.

Aerial View of Chepstow Castle


Chepstow Castle with the River Wye inthe forground


Interior View of Chepstow Castle


Interior View of Chepstow Castle


A spectacular and unusual talus at the foot of Marten's Tower


Closup of thel talus




Film Location For:

Ivanhoe (1913)    Starring King Baggot

Jabberwocky (1977)    Directed by Terry Gilliam



I want to   a   in      





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