Abergavenny Castle, Monmouthshire
Abergavenny Towne Centre
A40 / Castle Street
Abergavenny Castle was once an impressive castle, built to ensure Norman control of Monmouthshire of the native Welsh lords. Its strong tall walls were once described by the 16th century historian Leland as 'likely not to fall'.
Sadly today the castle appears somewhat underwhelming, located in the center of the town as the site of its museum. However, enough survives to provide a pleasant walk and access is very easy with plenty of parking and facilities nearby.
~ History ~
1087 ~ Hamelin de Ballon erects a timber motte-and-bailey frontier castle as the Norman's push further west into Wales.
1100 ~ The timber fortifications are rebuilt in stone.
1172 ~ Seisyll ap Dyfnwal, Welsh lord of nearby Castell Arnallt and brother-in-law to Rhys ap Gruffydd, the Lord Rhys, King of Deheubarth, attacks and captures the castle, in revenge to Norman advances into his lands. The castle is later returned to its owner, the powerful Marcher Lord, Willam de Braose.
1175 ~ The hated and cruel William de Braose, in seeking to eliminate his Welsh rivals in the area, especially Seisyll ap Dyfnwal, invites Seisyll and other prominent Welsh lords to his castle at Abergavenny for reconciliation talks.
Seisyll, together with other prominent Welsh nobles arrive at the castle, with assurances of safe conduct and on the understanding that they can voice grievances, overcome differences and plan a period of relative peace following years of conflict. However, some Welsh leaders stay away, mistrusting de Braose. Seisyll attends along with his eldest son Geoffrey. Most other Welsh leaders follow suit and eventually attend, surrendering their arms.
Once inside the walls they are cut down without mercy by William de Braose men.
De Braose and his men then mount their horses and gallop the few miles to Seisill's castle where they catch and murder his younger son, Cadwalladr a boy of seven years of age and capture his wife.
De Braose's act was to avenge his own uncle's death. His uncle Henry FitzMiles, who had been a victim of the Welsh earlier in the year, with Seisyll suspected. De Braose's strategy is to eliminate all those who could have done it and effectively remove the experienced leadership of the Welsh forces in the area, destabilising the region and seize the opportunity to gain the upper hand.
The English King Henry II, attempts to defuse the situation by imposing sanctions on William de Braose. This however fails to stop an attack on William's castle.
1182 ~ Hywel ap Iorwerth, lord of Caerleon, sends forces to strike at Dingestow and Abergavenny Castles causing significant damage to both castles. much destruction. The damage inflicted is sufficient to warrant a significant rebuilding programme.
1190 ~ A stone Keep, curtain walls with strong towers are constructed.
1233 ~ A combined attack by Richard Marshall, Earl of Pembroke and his Welsh princes on the castle, leads to further upgrades to its fortifications.
1400 ~ A major Welsh uprising under the leadership of Owain Glyndŵr leads to the building of the Barbican Gatehouse.
1645 ~ The castle is garrisoned for King Charles I. But as Royalist fortunes wane, King Charles orders its destruction to prevent it falling into the hands of Parliamentary forces. The ruined remains are later plundered for the stone.