The comprehensive gazetteer and bibliography of the medieval castles, fortifications and palaces of England, Wales, the Islands.
The listings
Other Info
Print Page 
Next Record 
Previous Record 
Back to list 

Skenfrith Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Ynys Gynwreid; Skinffrith

In the community of Llangattock Vibon Avel.
In the historic county of Monmouthshire.
Modern authority of Monmouthshire.
Preserved county of Gwent.

OS Map Grid Reference: SO45702027
Latitude 51.87826° Longitude -2.79022°

Skenfrith Castle has been described as a certain Masonry Castle.

There are major building remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.
This is a Grade 2* listed building protected by law*.


Skenfrith Castle’s original earth-and-timber form was built by the Normans during their settlement of England in order to protect communication routes between Hereford and England, forming a triangle of defences with Grosmont Castle and White Castle. The earthworks were later levelled in order to make way for the red sandstone castle begun in the late twelfth century to prepare for possible Welsh attack, in a design which was aimed both at military efficiency and domestic comfort. The castle is sub-rectangular, with a circular tower at each corner, a circular keep at the centre, and a hall and range of domestic apartments to the west, enclosed within a 12m wide moat. During the fifteenth century repairs were carried out at Skenfrith but by 1538 it had fallen into disuse, and passed through a number of hands before being given to the National Trust. It is now maintained by Cadw. (Coflein)

Situated at the SE corner of Skenfrith village, in the valley of the River Monnow, close to the W bank of the river and approximately 100m NW of Skenfrith Bridge.
One of three castles granted by King John to Hubert de Burgh in 1201, a powerful marcher lord who became the king's justiciar, who rebuilt it in stone between 1219 and 1232.
Ancient Monument. A ruined early-C13 curtain-walled castle built of roughly-coursed Old Red Sandstone; formerly surrounded by a moat fed from the river. It has a trapeziform plan, the NE side (to the river) approximately 80m long, the NW and SW sides approximately 60m, and the SE side approximately 40m, with a circular tower at each corner; a semi-circular tower added to the centre of the SW side in the late C13; and a circular keep-tower in the inner ward. Except for a wide breach in the middle of the NW side (now the entrance) the side walls still stand to a height of approximately 4m or 5m, the surviving towers slightly more, but at the NW corner little remains of the corner tower and the walls on either side have been robbed of much of their facing masonry. The original entrance is believed to have been in the middle of the NW side, and there is no other entrance except for a "water gate" in the middle of the NE side, where steps run down from the inner ward to a depressed-arched doorway. The circular keep tower, standing on a low mound offset slightly SW of the centre of the inner ward, is a little over 10m in diameter and about 12m in height. It has a battered plinth approximately 2m high, a former round-headed doorway at 1st-floor level on the N side (the masonry diagonally below it to the right breached); a convex extrusion on the W side (of which only the bottom remains) which appears to have been designed to accommodate a circular stair in the thickness of the wall; and remains of 3 round-headed window openings. Along the inner side of the SW wall are foundations of the basement of the former hall range; and near the NE corner is a circular well. (Listed Building Report)

Quadrilateral enclosure castle, mentioned, 1183, reconstructed in its present form in early C13, possibly still maintained into C16. The castle enclosure measures: 56m on the NW; 68m on the NE, river front; 34m on the SE and 54m on the SW, with c.8.0m diameter round towers at each angle and an additional tower on the SW front. Within the enclosure is a battered round tower, 13m in diameter overall, and remains of internal ranges. Away from the river there was a 12m wide stone-revetted moat. Constructed by Hubert de Burgh (1219-1232).

One of the Three Castles held in common ownership, with Grosmont Castle and White Castle.
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

Data >
Coflein   County HER   Scheduling   Listing    
Maps >
Streetmap   NLS maps   Where's the path   Old-Maps      
Data/Maps > 
Magic   Historic Wales   V. O. B.   Geology   LIDAR  
Air Photos > 
Bing Maps   Google Maps   Getmapping   ZoomEarth      
Photos >
CastleFacts   Geograph   Flickr   Panoramio      

Sources of information, references and further reading
Most of the sites or buildings recorded in this web site are NOT open to the public and permission to visit a site must always be sought from the landowner or tenant.
It is an offence to disturb a Scheduled Monument without consent. It is a destruction of everyone's heritage to remove archaeological evidence from ANY site without proper recording and reporting.
Don't use metal detectors on historic sites without authorisation.
The information on this web page may be derived from information compiled by and/or copyright of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historic Monuments of Wales, the four welsh archaeological trusts and other individuals and organisations. It may also contain Designated Historic Asset Descriptive Information from The Welsh Historic Environment Service (Cadw), licensed under the Open Government Licence. All the sources given should be consulted to identify the original copyright holder and permission obtained from them before use of the information on this site for commercial purposes.
The author and compiler of Gatehouse does not receive any income from the site and funds it himself. The information within this site is provided freely for educational purposes only.
The bibliography owes much to various bibliographies produced by John Kenyon for the Council for British Archaeology, the Castle Studies Group and others.
Suggestions for finding online and/or hard copies of bibliographical sources can be seen at this link.
Minor archaeological investigations, such as watching brief reports, and some other 'grey' literature is most likely to be held by H.E.R.s but is often poorly referenced and is unlikely to be recorded here, or elsewhere, but some suggestions can be found here.
The possible site or monument is represented on maps as a point location. This is a guide only. It should be noted that OS grid references defines an area, not a point location. In practice this means the actual center of the site or monument may often, but not always, be to the North East of the point shown.
Locations derived from OS grid references and from latitude longitiude may differ by a small distance.
Further information on mapping and location can be seen at this link.
Lidar coverage in the UK is not complete. The button above will give an idea of the area of coverage. Higher resolution lidar images in both DSM and DTM form may be available from Lle A geo-Portal for Wales (click the preview tag to bring up a map and then select format byclicking on the small blue diamond in the top right corner of the map.)
Please help to make this as useful a resource as possible by contacting Gatehouse if you see errors, can add information or have suggestions for improvements in functality and design.
Help is acknowledged.
*The listed building may not be the actual medieval building, but a building on the site of, or incorporating fragments of the described site.

This record last updated 28/06/2017 18:13:03