Chepstow Castle

Castles of Southern Wales Part I

Like northern Wales, southern Wales has some outstanding castles and other interesting historical sights, all within a small geographic region. The Romans settled this area around 48 AD, and their influence can still be seen in a number of ruins.

Chepstow Castle is one of the oldest surviving castles in Britain. Construction started on its great tower around 1081, just 15 years after William the Conqueror landed in southern England and changed the course of English history.

A view of Chepstow Castle, with Marten's Tower in the center and the well-fortified twin tower main gatehouse on the right. These are late 12th century castle additions.

A view of Chepstow Castle, with Marten’s Tower in the center and the well-fortified twin tower main gatehouse on the right. These are late 12th century castle additions.

The Lower Bailey of the castle. Domestic accomodations such as kitchens, latrines, other chambers are located here.

The Lower Bailey of the castle. Domestic accomodations such as kitchens, latrines, other chambers are located here.

If you love medieval castles, Chepstow doesn’t disappoint. It sits on a sheer cliff over the River Wye, near the mouth of the Severn River, on the border of Wales and England.

This image shows the Great Tower and how it and the castle walls sit right on the edge of the cliff over the River Wye.

This image shows the Great Tower and how it and the castle walls sit right on the edge of the cliff over the River Wye.

The castle was built to defend William’s newly conquered territory from the Welsh.

A view inside the Great Tower, a three story building, quite tall in its day. The builders used Roman stone blocks in its construction.

A view inside the Great Tower, a three story building, quite tall in its day. The builders used Roman stone blocks in its construction.

A view of the Welsh countryside and River Wye from the Upper Barbican of Chepstow Castle.

A view of the Welsh countryside and River Wye from the Upper Barbican of Chepstow Castle.

Chepstow is a large castle, with four distinct courtyards or sections. Supplies were brought to the castle via the River Wye using a hoist into storage rooms cut into the solid rock below the main castle.

Another view of Chepstow Castle.

Another view of Chepstow Castle.

I highly recommend a visit to this castle, one of my favorites in Britain.

Caerleon Fortress. Just west of Chepstow near the town of Newport is Caerleon Fortress, a Roman army site founded in 75 AD, home to one of the three permanent legions in Britain.

The foundations of the barracks and latrines at Caerleon.

The foundations of the barracks and latrines at Caerleon.

What remains are the foundations of the barracks and latrines (laid out with Roman efficiency), an amphitheater and ruins of the baths.

The amphitheater at Caerleon.

The amphitheater at Caerleon.

The amphitheater is still used for various events. The site is definitely worth a visit, and provides a feel for life in the Roman army in Britain.

Cardiff Castle. Cardiff is only 13 miles west of Newport and 32 miles west of Chepstow. Located right in the heart of the city of Cardiff, the castle grounds are impressive and surrounded by a large wall. There isn’t much remaining of the medieval castle other than the walls of the octagonal keep which sits on a high mound (motte) in the middle of the castle grounds.

The keep at Cardiff Castle.

The keep at Cardiff Castle.

There are some other beautiful neo-Gothic buildings that are part of Cardiff Castle. In addition, exhibits show part of an old Roman wall, and other items since this was the site of a Roman fort around 50 AD.