Once the site of a Roman fort but now, like so many medieval fortresses, a ruined reminder of bad times when Kings ruled like Gods and their barons tried to do likewise.
It has been suggested that William the Conqueror’s chief minister, William fitzOsbern first built a motte with its timbered tower and fenced bailey here soon after the Battle of Hastings.
After the death of fitzOsbern the property seems to have passed to Hugh de Lacy in about 1145. Whether he strengthened any part of the castle in stone, it is not known but there is a mention of the property in the Pipe Rolls of 1187 as, ‘novelli castri’ (new castle).
Hugh’s son Walter de Lacy inherited the castle in 1189 and it is thought he had the keep
and curtain walls rebuilt in stone.
1233, the castle was embroiled in the political struggle between King Henry III and the forces loyal to Richard Marshal who was leader of the barons, opposed to the growth of the king’s powers and his foreign allies, notably the Poitevins Peter de Rivaux and Peter de Roches. The King declared Marshall a traitor when he refused to attend the king’s court. This culminated in the Battle of Monmouth.
The castle then doesn’t seem to have played in any major event after this time other than having various owners until 1403 when King Henry IV ordered its re-fortification against
Welsh attacks by Owain Glyn Dwr, Prince of Wales.
Although the castle is believed not to have played a major part in the Civil War between the Royalists and Parliamentary forces, one cannot but wonder as to how such holes in its fabric could have been blasted if it was not involved. In 1865 cannon backs were found close by the ruined keep!
The castle is in the care of English Heritage.
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