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Llangibby Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Castell Tregrug; Tregreg; Trigruck; Traygruck; Tregruk; Treygruk; Treigruk

In the community of Llangybi.
In the historic county of Monmouthshire.
Modern authority of Monmouthshire.
Preserved county of Gwent.

OS Map Grid Reference: ST36419739
Latitude 51.67170° Longitude -2.92077°

Llangibby Castle has been described as a certain Masonry Castle.

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


Llangybi Castle is set upon a summit of a steep sided ridge. It is a sub-rectangular enclosure, c.164m by 78m, defined by ruinous walls and towers. The principal facade, facing west, has the wreck of a monumental twin-towered gatehouse and a shattered, complex tower, and is fronted by a ditch and counterscarp. The castle thought to have been constructed in the early fourteenth century, replacing an earlier castle to the east (NPRN 307862), but it was soon neglected and decayed. A park may have been established at the same time as the castle. (Coflein–ref. King and Perks, 1956)

The castle is undisturbed in woodland. The stonework is very overgrown with ivy, small trees etc. but is for the most part in reasonable condition. (Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust HER)

Roughly rectangular bailey 150m long by 80m wide. Only slight footings remain of a twin round towered gatehouse and a D-shaped tower on the south side plus two eastern towers, and not much more of the curtains which joined them, but the 2m thick north curtain with one D-shaped tower is intact, and there are two large structures of great interest at the west corners. That on the SW is a huge gatehouse with long U-shaped towers flanking a passageway closed formerly by portcullises and sets of doors. The NW corner of the bailey is occupied by a rectangular tower house 10.4m wide with round turrets at the east corners, that on the south having a spiral stair, and that on the north containing a hexagonal room formerly vaulted. The round west end shows signs of having been blown up in 1648. It is 12m in diameter. (Salter, 1991)

The monument consists of the remains of a castle, dating to the medieval period. The castle was built by the De Clare family in the 13th century, but is thought to have been unfinished when Gilbert de Clare V was killed at Bannockburn in 1314. The site consists of a large oblong bailey, 160m long by 80m wide, surrounded by a curtain wall that is largely complete to battlement level. There is an entrance into the bailey at the E end of the site. The entrance is 3.5m wide and has the remains of round towers on either side - the N round tower only survives as a curved wall, while the S tower is complete and stands to a height of 5m. The walls of the tower are 3m thick. The curtain wall on the E side survives in short stretches, one to the N of the entrance and three to the S. These sections of curtain wall stand to between 1.2m and 5m high on the inside, and up to 2m higher on the outside, and retain many original facing stones. On the S side of the site, there is a short stretch of curtain wall, 12m long and 3m high, at the E end. To the W of this section of wall is a 50m wide gap before a long stretch of curtain wall. In the gap there is a low scarp. The long section of walling is 30m long and 3.5m high, and has putlog holes for supporting timber buildings on its inside. In the SW corner of the bailey are the remains of a large tower, 6m high on the outside, with a large arched opening on the S side and the remains of a spiral staircase. Adjacent to the tower are the remains of a series of room. To the N of this tower is a 20m long, 2.5m wide entrance passage, with standing walls 3.5m high. To the N of the entrance is a round tower, 3.5m high, with a room behind it. A well-preserved doorway survives to the N of the tower. It is 1.8m wide and has a dressed stone wall behind it. To the N of the tower the curtain wall becomes more ruinous and the peters out. In the NW corner are the remains of a rectangular keep with towers at its corners. The tower in the SW corner is massive, 6m high with facing stones surviving for much of its height. The NW corner tower is 5.5m high with most of the facing stones missing. Large sections of fallen walling lie on the ground to the W of the tower. Inside the W end of the rectangular keep are two large arches with two smaller ones on either side. On the S side there are portions of ashlared vaulting on the roof of the room. At the E end there is a large central arch through the keep wall, with round towers on either side, each with an arch into it. The walls are up to 3.5m high and retain much of their faced stone. There is a further vaulted roof in the NE tower, which has a six-sided interior and two steps on the SE side. On the N side of the castle the curtain wall is continuous, 3m high on the inside and 4m high on the outside. There are putlog holes in the N wall and the stonework is in good condition. In the centre of the N side are the remains of a round tower standing 2m high with 2m thick walls. There are gaps in the middle on each side. The curtain wall ends abruptly at the NE corner of the castle. On the W side of the castle the ground drops steeply down to a deep ditch, part of which forms a sheer rock face 3m high. Outside the ditch is a narrow berm and a bank, varying in height between 1.6m and 3m. At the S end of the bank there is a gap for a modern track, after which is continues along the S side of the site. On the N side of the castle the ground drops sharply away. (Scheduling Report)

Tregruk, one of the biggest castles ever built in Britain. (TimeTeam)

The area contained within the curtain wall is very large but this castle may well have been a small hunting lodge with only a few ancillary buildings (a stable) within the enclosure. Although a Great Hall and chapel have been suggested these may never have been built and would not have been needed if this was a small hunting lodge. It is suggested in the Time Team excavation that some of the interior was occupied by a pleasuance or pleasure garden. It may be possible that a borough was planned, however this space could have formed a useful protected temporary encampment for troops employed by the Clares - particular as a muster point for English mercenary troop going onto the large Clare estates in Ireland. The Usk is close by and is navigable to Newport where transhipment of such troops could take place. Equally more commerical activities, including the moving of livestock, within the various Clare estates may have been facillitated by the castle.
TimeTeam's choice of name for the castle 'Tregruk' is that used in the CPMI of 1307. However, the castle is usual called, in academic writings, Llangibby or, in more correct Welsh, Llangybi from the local parish or Tregrug, the more correct Welsh spelling (Welsh does not use the letter K) meaning three hills.
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This record last updated 07/07/2016 08:39:29