Last Photographed: Saturday 21st January 2006
Other Names: Castell Cas-gwent
This castle is truly magnificent, perched commandingly on cliffs above the banks of the River Wye, clearly dominating the surrounding countryside.
The construction of Chepstow began in 1067, only one year after the arrival of the Norman invaders. The great hall still survives from this date, making it one of the earliest surviving stone fortifications in Britain. Chepstow was of massive strategic significance, serving as the gateway from England into Wales. Like many such places, Chepstow castle appears to have been built near an earlier Roman fortification. Roman bricks can still be seen where they've been recycled and reused in the construction of the Norman castle.
The castle saw brief action during the English civil wars in the 1640s. From then, it served as a garrison for parliamentary troops until the restoration in 1660. After this time, the garrison was halved and the castle eventually abandoned in 1690.
Today, the sense of history is palpable. As with so many of my favourite places, much of the atmosphere is created by location. The unique terraced construction of Chepstow over a length of land also adds to it's identity though, allowing you to progress through the castle smoothly from one end to the other, soaking in the atmosphere as you walk. You're never far away from a view of the Wye, and the combination of historic architecture and natural beauty add up to make for a compelling experience.