The Three Castles was a former medieval lordship, comprising the fortifications of Grosmont, Skenfrith and White Castle in Monmouthshire, Wales. The castles were established by the Normans in the wake of their conquest of England in 1066, to protect the route from Wales to Hereford. Possibly commissioned by William fitz Osbern, the Earl of Hereford, they initially comprised earthwork fortifications with timber defences. In 1135, a major Welsh revolt took place and in response King Stephen brought the castles together to form the lordship, which continued to play a role in defending the region for several centuries.
Some work was carried out to develop the castles in the 12th century, but their current form mainly dates from the 13th century. In 1201, King John gave the castles to a powerful royal official, Hubert de Burgh. During the course of the next few decades, the lordship passed back and forth between several owners, including Hubert, the rival de Braose family, and the Crown. During his tenure, Hubert completely levelled and rebuilt Skenfrith Castle, and substantially redeveloped Grosmont. White Castle was probably rebuilt in the 1250s and 1260s during the reign of Henry III.
In 1267, the three castles were granted to Edmund, the Earl of Lancaster, and remained in the hands of the earldom, and later duchy, of Lancaster until 1825. King Edward I's conquest of Wales removed much of the castles' utility, however, and by the 16th century they had fallen into disuse and ruin. In the early 20th century, the ruins were gradually placed into the care of the state, and are now managed by the Cadw Welsh heritage agency. The sites are linked by a modern footpath known as the Three Castles Walk.
The fortifications that came to make up the lordship of the "Three Castles" were built in the wake of the Norman invasion of England in 1066.Shortly after the invasion, the Normans pushed up into the Welsh Marches, where William the Conqueror made William fitz Osbern the Earl of Hereford. Earl William added further to his new lands, capturing the towns of Monmouth and Chepstow. The Normans used castles extensively to subdue the Welsh, establish new settlements and exert their claims of lordship over the territories.
Grosmont, Skenfrith, and White Castle were all constructed in the Monnow valley around this time, possibly by Earl William himself, to protect the route from Wales to Hereford.The first castles on these sites were built from earth and timber. The earldom's landholdings in the region were slowly broken up after William's son, Roger de Breteuil, rebelled against the King in 1075. In 1135, a major Welsh revolt took place, however, and in response King Stephen restructured the landholdings along this section of the Marches, bringing the castles back under the control of the Crown to form the lordship known as the "Three Castles".
Conflict with the Welsh continued, and following a period of détente under King Henry II in the 1160s, the de Mortimer and de Braose Marcher families attacked their Welsh rivals during the 1170s, leading to a Welsh assault on nearby Abergavenny Castle in 1182.In response, the Crown readied the castle to face an attack, including rebuilding parts of Skenfrith and White Castle in stone.
In 1201, King John gave the Three Castles to Hubert de Burgh.Hubert was a minor landowner who had become John's household chamberlain when he was still a prince, and went on to become an increasingly powerful royal official once John had inherited the throne. Hubert began to upgrade his new castles, starting with Grosmont, but was captured while fighting in France. While he was in captivity, King John took back the Three Castles and gave them to William de Braose, an enemy of Hubert's. The king subsequently fell out with William and dispossessed him of his lands in 1207, but de Braose's son, also called William, took the opportunity presented by the First Barons' War to retake the castles.
Once released, Hubert regained his grip on power, becoming the justiciar and the Earl of Kent, before finally recovering the Three Castles in 1219 during the reign of King Henry III.During Hubert's tenure, Skenfrith was entirely rebuilt; the old castle was levelled and a new rectangular castle with round towers and a central circular keep built in stone in its place.
Hubert fell from power in 1232 and was stripped of the castles again, which were placed under the command of Walerund Teutonicus, a royal servant.Henry led an army into Wales in 1233 against the rebellious Richard Marshall, the Earl of Pembroke, and his Welsh allies, and camped outside Grosmont Castle that November. Richard carried out a night attack on their encampment, and, while not taking the castle itself, he forced the rest of the king's army to flee in confusion. Having been reconciled with the king in 1234, the castles were returned to Hubert briefly, but he fell out with King Henry III once more in 1239 and they were taken back and assigned again to Walerund.
In 1254, the lordship was granted to King Henry's eldest son and later king, Prince Edward.The castles were readied in response to Llywelyn ap Gruffudd's attack on Abergavenny in 1262; Skenfrith Castle, under the command of Gilbert Talbot, was ordered to be garrisoned "by every man, and at whatever cost", but the threat passed without incident. Edmund, the Earl of Lancaster and the capitaneus of the royal forces in Wales, was given the lordship in 1267 and for many centuries it was held by the earldom, and later duchy, of Lancaster.
King Edward I's conquest of Wales in 1282 removed much of threes castles' military utility, although they continued to be maintained and used as administrative centres.The castles' last military involvement was Grosmont's role during the revolt of Owain Glyndŵr at the start of the 15th century. Grosmont was attacked in 1405 by Owain's son, Gruffudd, but was relieved by an English force sent by Prince Henry. By 1538, the castles had fallen into disuse and then into dilapidation; a 1613 description noted that they were "ruynous and decayed".
In 1825, the three castles were sold off to Henry Somerset, the Duke of Beaufort. 30 kilometres (19 mi) long modern footpath called the Three Castles Walk connects the castles.The estate was broken up in 1902 and sold on to various private owners, who carried out some conservation of the site. The castles were placed into the care of the state during the early 20th century, and extensive repair work was carried out. In the 21st century, the three castles are managed by the Welsh heritage agency Cadw and protected under UK law as grade I and grade II* listed buildings. A
|Grosmont Castle|| Grosmont ||Grosmont Castle dates mostly from the 13th century with later 14th-century additions. It originally comprised an inner and an outer ward, but the latter has been encroached upon by local gardens. The inner ward forms a stone castle with a gatehouse, two circular mural towers, a hall and a north accommodation block, protected by a ditch. Originally other timber buildings would have been raised against the outer stone wall as accommodation for the castle's servants, but only limited traces of these survive. The north block of the inner ward has a distinctive octagonal chimney with a carved top.|
|Skenfrith Castle|| Skenfrith ||Skenfrith Castle dates from the early 13th century, when the original 11th- and 12th-century castle was flattened. The castle forms a polygon, and was originally protected by a stone-revetted, water-filled moat fed by the river. The curtain wall survives, with circular towers on each corner. A two-storey hall range stretched across the south-western inside of the castle, of which only the foundations now survive. The three-story circular keep in the middle of the castle has a protruding staircase tower on its south-western side.|
|White Castle|| Llantilio Crossenny ||White Castle dates mainly from the 13th century and is made up of a central inner ward, a crescent-shaped hornwork to the south, and an outer ward to the north. The outer ward was originally much larger, extending around the castle further to the east, but only limited traces of these earthworks survive. Buildings stretched around the inside of the inner ward, including the hall, the constable's living quarters, the chapel, service buildings and the kitchen block. The historian Paul Remfry considers the castle to be "a masterpiece of military engineering".|
William de Braose,, 4th Lord of Bramber, court favourite of King John of England, at the peak of his power, was also Lord of Gower, Abergavenny, Brecknock, Builth, Radnor, Kington, Limerick, Glamorgan, Skenfrith, Briouze in Normandy, Grosmont and White Castle.
White Castle, also known historically as Llantilio Castle, is a ruined castle near the village of Llantilio Crossenny in Monmouthshire, Wales. The fortification was established by the Normans in the wake of the invasion of England in 1066, to protect the route from Wales to Hereford. Possibly commissioned by William fitz Osbern, the Earl of Hereford, it comprised three large earthworks with timber defences. In 1135, a major Welsh revolt took place and in response King Stephen brought together White Castle and its sister fortifications of Grosmont and Skenfrith to form a lordship known as the "Three Castles", which continued to play a role in defending the region from Welsh attack for several centuries.
Edmund Crouchback, Earl of Lancaster, Leicester, and Derby was a member of the House of Plantagenet. He was the second surviving son of King Henry III of England and Eleanor of Provence. In his childhood he had a claim on the Kingdom of Sicily; however, he never ruled there. He was granted all the lands of Simon de Montfort in 1265, and from 1267 he was titled Earl of Leicester. In that year he also began to rule Lancashire, but he did not take the title Earl of Lancaster until 1276. Between 1276 and 1284 he governed the counties of Champagne and Brie with his second wife, Blanche of Artois, in the name of her daughter Joan, and he was described in the English patent rolls as earl of Lancaster and Champagne. His nickname, "Crouchback", may be a corruption of 'crossback' and refer to his participation in the Ninth Crusade.
Chepstow Castle at Chepstow, Monmouthshire, Wales is the oldest surviving post-Roman stone fortification in Britain. Located above cliffs on the River Wye, construction began in 1067 under the instruction of the Norman Lord William FitzOsbern. Originally known as Striguil, it was the southernmost of a chain of castles built in the Welsh Marches, and with its attached lordship took the name of the adjoining market town in about the 14th century.
Wiston Castle is a motte and bailey castle in the Pembrokeshire village of Wiston in south west Wales and is one of the best examples of its type in Wales. The castle and village were founded by Wizo, a Flemish settler who was granted the land by Henry I of England after he had wrested control from the previous owner, Arnulf de Montgomery. The castle was captured by the Welsh on several occasions but on each occasion it was retaken. It was abandoned during the thirteenth century when the then owner moved to nearby Picton Castle.
Skenfrith Castle is a ruined castle in the village of Skenfrith in Monmouthshire, Wales. The fortification was established by the Normans in the wake of the invasion of England in 1066, to protect the route from Wales to Hereford. Possibly commissioned by William fitz Osbern, the Earl of Hereford, the castle comprised earthworks with timber defences. In 1135, a major Welsh revolt took place and in response King Stephen brought together Skenfrith Castle and its sister fortifications of Grosmont and White Castle to form a lordship known as the "Three Castles", which continued to play a role in defending the region from Welsh attack for several centuries.
Denbigh Castle and town walls were a set of fortifications built to control the lordship of Denbigh after the conquest of Wales by Norman King Edward I in 1282. The King granted the lands to Henry de Lacy, the Earl of Lincoln, who began to build a new walled town, colonised by immigrants from England, protected by a substantial castle and surrounded by deer parks for hunting. The work had not been completed by 1294, when the Welsh temporarily seized the castle during the Madog ap Llywelyn revolt. The defences continued to be improved, although the castle was not completely finished by the time of Henry's death in 1311.
Abergavenny Castle is a ruined castle in the market town of Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, Wales, established by the Norman lord Hamelin de Balun c. 1087. It was the site of a massacre of Welsh noblemen in 1175, and was attacked during the early 15th-century Glyndŵr Rising. William Camden, the 16th-century antiquary, said that the castle "has been oftner stain'd with the infamy of treachery, than any other castle in Wales."
Loughor Castle is a ruined, medieval fortification located in the town of Loughor, Wales. The castle was built around 1106 by the Anglo-Norman lord Henry de Beaumont, during the Norman invasion of Wales. The site overlooked the River Loughor and controlled a strategic road and ford running across the Gower Peninsula. The castle was designed as an oval ringwork, probably topped by wicker fence defences, and reused the remains of the former Roman fort of Leucarum.
Grosmont is a village and community near Abergavenny in Monmouthshire, Wales. The population taken at the 2011 census was 920. The wider community (parish) includes the villages of Llangattock Lingoed, Llangua and Llanvetherine.
Grosmont Castle is a ruined castle in the village of Grosmont, Monmouthshire, Wales. The fortification was established by the Normans in the wake of the invasion of England in 1066, to protect the route from Wales to Hereford. Possibly commissioned by William fitz Osbern, the Earl of Hereford, it was originally an earthwork design with timber defences. In 1135, a major Welsh revolt took place, and in response King Stephen brought together Grosmont Castle and its sister fortifications of Skenfrith and White Castle to form a lordship known as the "Three Castles", which continued to play a role in defending the region from Welsh attack for several centuries.
Montgomery Castle is a stone-built castle looking over the town of Montgomery in Powys, Mid Wales. It is one of many Norman castles on the border between Wales and England.
This article is about the particular significance of the century 1201–1300 to Wales and its people.
Llantilio Crossenny is a small village and much larger community in Monmouthshire, south east Wales, in the United Kingdom. It is situated between the two towns of Abergavenny and Monmouth on the B4233 road. The community includes Penrhos, and Llanvihangel-Ystern-Llewern.
Skenfrith is a small village in Monmouthshire, south-east Wales. It is located on the River Monnow, close to the border between Wales and England, about 6 miles (9.7 km) north-west of Monmouth. The road through the village (B4521) was once the A40, linking Ross-on-Wye and Abergavenny.
Monmouth Castle is a castle close to the centre of the town of Monmouth, the county town of Monmouthshire, on a hill above the River Monnow in south east Wales.
Maud de Braose, Lady of Bramber was an English noble, the spouse of William de Braose, 4th Lord of Bramber, a powerful Marcher baron and court favourite of King John of England. She would later incur the wrath and enmity of the King who caused her to be starved to death in the dungeon of Corfe Castle along with her eldest son. In contemporary records, she was described as beautiful, very wise, doughty, and vigorous. She kept up the war against the Welsh and conquered much from them.
The Church of St Bridget lies at the north end of the village of Skenfrith, Monmouthshire, Wales. It is an active parish church and a Grade I listed building. The church is dedicated to St Brigit, to whom 17 churches are dedicated across the country.
The Church of St Nicholas in the village of Grosmont, Monmouthshire, Wales, is a parish church dating from the 13th century. Its exceptional size reflects the importance and standing of the borough of Grosmont at the time of the church's construction and has led it to be called a "miniature cathedral". Largely unaltered from the time of its building, by the 19th century the church had seriously decayed and its tower was close to collapse. It was rescued from dereliction in a restoration undertaken by John Pollard Seddon and financed by John Etherington Welch Rolls.
Monmouthshire is a county and principal area of Wales. It borders Torfaen and Newport to the west; Herefordshire and Gloucestershire to the east; and Powys to the north. The largest town is Abergavenny, with other large settlements being Chepstow, Monmouth, and Usk. The present county was formed under the Local Government (Wales) Act 1994, and comprises some sixty percent of the historic county. Between 1974 and 1996, the county was known by the ancient title of Gwent, recalling the medieval Welsh kingdom. The county is 850 km2 in extent, with a population of 95,200 as of 2020.