Castles Of Wales

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Wales is often called the Land of Castles and rightly so, as it is home to some of Europes finest surviving medieval castle construction. In Wales you can visit well known castles, but also less known ones, from the mighty Chepstow in southeast Wales, to Beaumaris on the Isle of Anglesey, and charming Ewloe in the north. The Castles of Wales survive today in a variety of conditions, starting from completely ruined castles to ones that still serve as homes for their owners. Many are currently under the care of CADW: Welsh Historic Monuments, an organization whose members are dedicated to preserving the many ancient monuments found in this land.

In a country with few great churches and abbeys, the Castles of Wales are the most important group of monuments left from the Middle Ages, also adding the landscape that surrounds them.

Chepstow is a Norman castle built high above the banks of the river Wye in southeastern part of Wales by William fitz Osbern. Construction began at Chepstow in 1067, less than a year after William the Conqueror was crowned King of England.

Chepstow Castle became the reason for expeditions into Wales, expeditions that helped organise the rebellious population.

Chepstows Great Hall begun in 1067, is the oldest surviving stone fortification in Britain. The arch above the main doorway to the hall is made from brick brought from a Roman fort that was once built nearby. The hall was always the heart of the castle, and at the beginning it stood alone. Over the years, the castle was extended by a series of builders. Today, the castle takes the shape of a long rectangle, high above the river Wye.

Before William fitz Osbern s death in 1071 he had built the rectangular keep, which is still a part of the castle today. At the end of the 12th century, Chepstow passed by marriage to William Marshal, a formidable and wealthy soldier, and earl of Pembroke. With quite a lot of experience in military architecture in France, he started bringing fitz Osberns castle up to date Before 1245, the sons of William Marshal greatly extended Chepstows defences and improved the accommodation.

Chepstow was modified after that in the Tudor period, and in the Civil War it was twice damaged. Its defences, designed against medieval attack, fell to Parliamentary cannon.

Chepstow was also used for State prisoners and the republican Henry Marten, spent 20 years of quite comfortable captivity in the tower which now owns his name.


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