Skenfrith Castle, Skenfrith, Monmouthshire, South Wales

An entrance to Skenfrith Castle, Skenfrith. Credit: andy dolman from

Skenfrith Castle is located five and a half miles from the town on Monmouth, Monmouthshire south Wales and thirteen miles from Abergavenny. It is one of the Three Castles which are those of White Castle, Grosmont and Skenfrith Castles. They were all built around the same time, after the Norman Conquest in 1066. There was a castle in Skenfrith, in 1160 but that could have been a timber structure which was replaced by a stone one at a later date. Skenfrith is on low-lying land, near the banks of the River Monnow, which makes this different from the other two castles.

The ruins of the Keep at Skenfrith Castle. Credit: andy dolman from

There is a circular keep in the centre of the courtyard of the castle and there were round towers at each of the four corners of the curtain walls which formed an irregular quadrangle. The keep had a spiral staircase leading to the two upper floors but this is largely destroyed now.

The courtyard of Skenfrith Castle. Credit: andy dolman from

The Three Castles formed a group of defences against the Welsh and were built to stop insurgency. However the English kings frequently got things wrong and refortified castles when there was no need. This was the case in the 12th and 13th century in many of the Welsh Marches’ castles.

The ruins of Skenfrith Castle. Credit: Pauline Eccles from

In 1187, King Henry II commissioned Ralph Grosmont to rebuild Skenfrith castle in stone, but cancelled the work in 1188, believing that it was unnecessary. In 1193 William de Braose, the local sheriff, began to make use of the castle, erecting a palisade and later building a prison inside the stockade.

The ruins of Skenfrith Castle. Credit: Pauline Eccles from

The castle then passed into the hands of Hubert de Burgh and his family and in 1219 Hubert continued the building work, but the castle was ruined because of the flooding when, in winter, the River Monnow burst its banks. Hubert then filled in the interior of the first castle with gravel from the river and rebuilt the castle. Today, visitors can see the hall of the first castle which had been buried in gravel from 1220, until the excavations in the 1950s.

Skenfrith Castle is in the centre of the village of Skenfrith. Credit: Pauline Eccles from

As a result of being thus buried, the door jambs, windows and original iron door hinges and window bars still survive, almost eight hundred years later.

King Henry III seized the castle in 1239 and had a lead roof put on the central keep in 1244. However after the Welsh uprising under Owain Glyndwr in the early 15th century the castle was more or less abandoned, and by the 16th century it was beginning to fall into ruin.

You can actually visit the Three Castles in a day if you are staying in either Monmouth, Abergavenny or Crickhowell, however I think that White Castle deserves more time spent in it than the other two – but this is just a personal preference.

Entrance is free to Skenfrith Castle and Grosmont – so Kati would like this!

About lynnee8

I have travelled extensively both for business (I am a teacher and teacher-trainer of English as a Foreign Language) and pleasure. I have just come back from Pakistan where I lived for 4 years. I love Greece and have lived there for more than 10 years although not all at one time.
This entry was posted in South Wales, Travel and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Skenfrith Castle, Skenfrith, Monmouthshire, South Wales

  1. Pingback: Grosmont Castle, one of the Three Castles in the Welsh Marches | Writing and Travel

  2. Pingback: Raglan Castle, Monmouthshire, South Wales | Writing and Travel

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s