Gwent - Wales
This castle arrived at its name because it used to be painted white so as to be seen from a distance.
It formed part of a defensive triangle, together with castles Grosmont and Skenfrith, to help control the southern border land between Wales and England, termed the ‘Southern March.’ All three were to become royal castles in the late 12th century.
The first castle, probably a motte and bailey type, was built c.1068 by William fitzOsbern, Earl of Hereford and one of William the Conqueror’s chief councillors, but by the early 12th century,
the ownership had passed to Payn fitzJohn.
Because of the the rise of Welsh unrest, King Henry II, in about 1182 to 87, had the engineer/architect, Ralph de Grosmont strengthen the fortifications and may well have rebuilt the keep in stone. What is certain, he built a stone curtain wall costing £128. At that time he was also in charge of building works
at the two other castles, Grosmont and Skenfrith.
Circa 1201, King John granted the castle to Hubert de Burgh, who built the twin towered gatehouse. Although Hubert was arrested in 1232, in the reign of King Henry III, and dispossessed of his estates, he was to be re-instated two years later. He continued the castle work by building the chapel tower and a new D-shaped ‘Great Tower’ to the south. He also demolished the old keep and built a new
curtain wall which added a new outer ward.
In about 1260, while under the command of the Constable, Gilbert Talbot the castle was
again strengthen against Welsh attack.
Between 1404 and 1405, during the rebellion of Owain Glyndwr, the castle briefly saw action but after that time its military role had diminished and by 1538 the castle had been abandoned.
It is now in the care of Cadw and access is only during the summer months.
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