Abergavenny Castle

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Motte), and also as a Certain Masonry Castle

There are major building remains

NameAbergavenny Castle
Alternative NamesY Fenni; Bergevenn'; Gevenu; Berguevenis
Historic CountryMonmouthshire
Modern AuthorityMonmouthshire
1974 AuthorityGwent
CommunityAbergavenny

The remains of the fourteenth century and later masonry castle at Abergavenny are built upon earlier earthworks. The motte is much mutilated to accomodate a nineteenth century castellated tower, whilst there are substantial, if fragmentary, remains of the walls and towers of the roughly 54m by 67-40m bailey to the north. (Coflein)

Situated W off the main road on the southern approach to the town centre.

C12 earthworks from the castle of Hamelin de Ballon built in about 1090. The surviving masonry structures are from the C13 stone castle built by de Wallingford and its later extension in the early C15. Some of the walling dates from the earlier period, c1295-1319, while most of the circuit walls, with the remains of the Banqueting Hall and the South-west and South-east Towers date from c1403-09 as the Barbican probably does also. There are some fragments on the motte which may date from c1241, but this area seems to have very largely been reconstructed in 1818-9. Abergavenny Castle was the scene of the infamous massacre of seventy unarmed Welsh guests of William de Broase on Christmas Day 1175, but nothing of what survives can really be associated with this event as the castle was captured by the Welsh princes in 1182, recaptured by Reginald de Broase in 1215 and then destroyed following capture again by the Welsh princes in 1233. Rebuilt by the English to the end of the century the castle survived a siege by Owain Glyndwr in 1404 and was still in good condition at the time of John Leland's visit in the 1540s. In 1643 it was garrisoned for the Crown in the Civil War, then abandoned and slighted, then re-garrisoned for Parliament in 1645 and besieged in 1646, but stood firm. Following the end of the Civil War it fell gradually into decay. In 1818-9 the Marquess of Abergavenny built what was then The Court House (now Abergavenny Museum qv) as a hunting and shooting box; and it was later leased by other families

In 1881 the Castle was leased to The Abergavenny Improvement Commissioners and they converted it into what became a successful pleasure ground. It is still maintained by the local authority as a park but it is now displayed as an Ancient Monument rather than as a picturesque ruin within a garden.

Fragmentary survival of interior features including two garderobes in the South-west Tower.

Built entirely of Old Red sandstone rubble, roughly coursed, with the earliest work on the Gatehouse perhaps distinguishable from the rest; part of the work on the south-west Tower approaches a more ashlar quality. Circuit walls with the remains of two towers and the main Gatehouse survive. Walling survives to the height of 5-6m, with the polygonal south-west Tower the most impressive, with the effect enhanced by the very fine and large copper beech tree that grows within it. (Listed Building Report)

Castle situated in a strong defensive position above the confluence of the Rivers Usk and Gavenny. Documentary evidence suggests that it was in existence by AD 1090. Originally a motte and bailey castle, which was rebuilt in stone during C13. It had a circular round tower on the motte and the outer bailey is divided to form a small forecourt to the motte. A large polygonal tower and a long barbican was added c.1300. Documentary history suggests that it was captured by the Welsh on at least one occasion and subsequently recaptured. It was held against Glyndwr and dismantled 1645. (Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust)

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law

Historic Wales CADW listed database record number
The National Monument Record (Coflein) number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSO299139
Latitude51.8197212219238
Longitude-3.0176100730896
Eastings329960
Northings213940
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All rights reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All rights reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All rights reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All rights reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All rights reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All rights reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All rights reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All rights reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All rights reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All rights reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All rights reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All rights reserved

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Books

  • Olding, F., 2012, Discovering Abergavenny: archaeology & history (Abergavenny: Abergavenny Local History Society)
  • Goodall, John, 2011, The English Castle 1066-1650 (Yale University Press) p. 235, 274
  • Kenyon, John, 2010, The Medieval Castles of Wales (University of Wales Press) p. 96
  • Morgan, Gerald, 2008, Castles in Wales: A Handbook (Talybont: Y Lolfa Cyf.) p. 168-9
  • Courtney, P., 2008, 'The Marcher Lordships' in R. Griffiths, T. Hopkins and R. Howell (eds), The Gwent County History (Cardiff: University of Wales Press) Vol. 2 The Age of the Marcher Lords, c. 1070-1536 p. 53-6, 60-2 (tenurial history)
  • Prior, Stuart, 2006, A Few Well-Positioned Castles: The Norman Art of War (Tempus) p. 110-164
  • Phillips, Neil, 2006, Earthwork Castles of Gwent and Ergyng AD 1050-1250 (British Archaeological Reports) p. 111-15
  • Pettifer, Adrian, 2000, Welsh Castles, A Guide by Counties (Boydell Press) p. 121-2
  • Newman, John, 2000, The Buildings of Wales: Gwent/Monmouthshire (Yale University Press) p. 100
  • Reid, Alan, 1998, Castles of Wales (John Jones Publishing) p. 26-7
  • Salter, Mike, 1991, The Castles of Gwent, Glamorgan and Gower (Malvern) p. 10-11
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 280-1
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 322
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 84
  • Oman, Charles W.C., 1926, Castles (1978 edn Beetham House: New York) p. 167-9
  • Armitage, Ella, 1912, The Early Norman Castles of the British Isles (London: John Murray) p. 97-8 online copy
  • Bradney, J.A., 1906, History of Monmouthshire Vol. 1 p. 148-9 (trifling)
  • Mackenzie, J.D., 1897, Castles of England (Heinemann) Vol. 2 p. 74-6 online copy
  • Timbs, J. and Gunn, A., 1872, Abbeys, Castles and Ancient Halls of England and Wales Vol. 2 (London) p. 483 online copy
  • Turner, T.H. and Parker, J.H., 1859, Some account of Domestic Architecture in England (Oxford) Vol. 3 Part 2 p. 372 online copy
  • Barber, J.T., 1803, A Tour Throughout South Wales and Monmouthshire (London: T. Cadell and W. Davies) p. 305
  • Coxe, W., 1801, An Historical Tour in Monmouthshire (London) Vol. 1 p. 172-81 (plan facing p. 49)
  • Grose, F., 1756, Antiquities of England and Wales Vol. 3 p. 147-50 online copy

Antiquarian

Journals

  • Guy, Neil et al, 2008/9, 'Abergavenny Castle' Castle Studies Group Journal Vol. 22 p. 8-14
  • Phillips, N., 2000, 'Abergavenny Castle 1087-1535' Gwent Local History Vol. 88 p. 17-31
  • Kenyon, John R., 1996, 'Fluctuating Frontiers: Normanno-Welsh Castle Warfare c. 1075 to 1240' Château Gaillard Vol. 17 p. 119-126
  • Thompson, M.W., 1986, 'Associated monasteries and castles in the Middle Ages: a tentative list' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 143 p. 308
  • Kenyon, John R., 1984, 'Abergavenny Castle: a reinterpretation of Thomas Cooke's painting The Castle and Mount', Caerleon, 1785' Monmouthshire Antiquarian Vol. 5(1-2) p. 62-3
  • Hogg, A.H.A. and King, D.J.C., 1967, 'Masonry castles in Wales and the Marches: a list' Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 116 p. 71-132
  • Hogg, A.H.A. and King, D.J.C., 1963, 'Early castles in Wales and the Marches: a preliminary list' Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 112 p. 77-124
  • Radcliffe, 1962, Archaeology in Wales Vol. 2 p. 16
  • Brown, R, Allen, 1959, 'A List of Castles, 1154–1216' English Historical Review Vol. 74 p. 249-280 (Reprinted in Brown, R. Allen, 1989, Castles, conquest and charters: collected papers (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 90-121) view online copy (subscription required)
  • Clark, G.T., 1889, 'Contribution towards a complete list of moated mounds or burhs' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 46 p. 197-217 esp. 208 online copy

Guide Books

  • Ralphs, 1956, Abergavenny Castle (Abergavenny)

Primary Sources

  • Ancient charters, royal and private, prior to A.D. 1200 (Pipe Roll Society 10) p. 43 no. 26
  • Brut y Tywysogion 1172, 1175, 1215, 1233 (Several transcriptions and translations exist the best being Jones, T., 1952, Brut Y Twysogion (University of Wales, History and Law series 11)–based on the Peniarth MS 20 version. There is a flawed translation Williams ab Ithel, John, 1860, Brut Y Twysogion or The Chronicle of the Princes (Rolls Series) online copy)
  • Williams (ab Ithel), John, (ed), 1860, Annales Cambriae (444 – 1288) (London: Longman, Green, Longman, and Roberts)1233 online copy
  • Giraldus Cambrensis, c.1188, Journey Through Wales view online transcription
  • Giraldus Cambrensis, c.1183, Description of Wales view online transcription
  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1903, Calendar of Patent Rolls Henry III (1225-32) Vol. 2 p. 336, 339, 427 online copy
  • Rickard, John, 2002, The Castle Community. The Personnel of English and Welsh Castles, 1272-1422 (Boydell Press) (lists sources for 1272-1422) p. 307-8
  • Round, J.H. (ed), 1899, Calendar of Documents Preserved in France (Record Office) p. 367-8 online copy
  • 'Annales de Theokesberia' in Luard, H.R (ed), 1857, Annales Monastici (Rolls Series 36) Vol. 1 p. 91 online copy
  • Stamp, A.E. (ed), 1929, Calendar of Close Rolls Henry IV (1402-1405) Vol. 2 p. 111 view online copy (subscription required)
  • Phillips, J.R., 1874, Memoirs of the Civil War in Wales and the Marches (London) Vol. 2 p. 259 online copy

Other

  • Phillips, Neil, 2005, Earthwork Castles of Gwent and Ergyng AD 1050-1250 (PhD Thesis University of Sheffield) Download