Photogenic Landscapes and Historic Sites in Monmouthshire




Skirrid Fawr Chepstow Castle Llanthony Priory Grosmont Castle
Monmouthshire is one of the 13 ancient counties of Wales, and currently comprises about two thirds of its original size, after the 1974 transfer of the western section to five new, much smaller boroughs. The modern boundary of the county, or unitary authority, extends from Caldicot along a short section of the Bristol Channel, then follows the River Wye northwards, at one point incorporating a small area on the east side of the river, before moving northwest, past Monmouth to and a little beyond Llanthony in the Black Mountains, this the northernmost point. The western boundary of the country runs generally a short distance beyond the River Usk, coming close to Newport before veering southeast towards Caldicot and Chepstow.

Most of the land is rural, a mix of agricultural fields, small hills and winding valleys, with the most scenic areas being the Wye Valley in the east and the mountains of the far west. Monmouthshire contains a small section of the east side of Brecon Beacons National Park (most of which is in neighbouring Powys), including most of the Vale of Ewyas, and the isolated peak of Skirrd Fawr. Adjacent English counties are Gloucestershire to the east and Herefordshire to the north.

The landscapes are pretty, but Monmouthshire is perhaps best known for historic buildings, in particular its castles. Of the original 20 or so, nine are largely complete; four are found in city centres while the reminder have picturesque, rural settings. The relative abundance of castles is a consequence of the strategically important location, close to the historic boundary between Wales and England, which used to be a little further west of the current border; most of the forts were built by the English. The best castles are Chepstow, Raglan and White. Other noted antiquities include Caerwent Roman Town, which features extensive city walls up to 20 feet high, dating from the third century, and the beautiful monastic remains of Tintern Abbey and Llanthony Priory.


Castles



Abergavenny Castle - town centre ruin with a long and varied history

Caldicot Castle - large fortification, once a ruin but restored in the 19th century, surrounded by lawns and woods

Chepstow Castle - substantial Norman castle on the banks of the River Wye

Grosmont Castle - compact, peaceful and picturesque castle near the River Monnow

Monmouth Castle - small castle in the city centre, birthplace of Henry V

Raglan Castle - spectacular medieval castle in southeast Wales, complete with moat

Skenfrith Castle - remains of a 13th century castle, in rural surroundings overlooking the River Monnow

Usk Castle - small, rather hidden and privately-owned castle ruins with pretty, wooded surroundings

White Castle - a moated castle with outer court, on a hill in a peaceful, rural location

Roman Sites



Caerwent Roman Town - varied relics from a major Roman settlement, including extensive city walls


Landscapes



Clydach Gorge - wooded valley containing several waterfalls, plus old railways and industrial relics

Skirrid Fawr - eastern outlier of the Black Mountains, circled by a 3.5 mile loop trail

Ruined Abbeys

, and other religious buildings

Llanthony Priory - ruined Augustinian priory in a remote valley within the Black Mountains

Runston Chapel - roofless ruins of a small chapel, built in the 12th century; in a rural location southwest of Chepstow

Tintern Abbey - beautiful ruined abbey on the floor of the Wye Valley, beneath steep, forested slopes


Map of Featured Monmouthshire Locations