Monmouth Castle, Monmouthshire


Great tower
Wall of the great tower

Small, town centre remains of a Norman castle, on the banks of the River Monnow, comprising a great hall and great tower
At the end of Castle Hill in the centre of Monmouth; NP25 3BS
The castle at Monmouth is one of the smallest of several dozen such structures that survive in south Wales, now consisting just of two roofless rooms - a tower and a hall, and even at its peak the place was quite compact, only around 300 feet across. Construction began in Norman times, in or slightly before 1069, when an earth and timber fort was built, atop a small hill on the south side of the River Monnow, one mile upstream from the confluence with the larger River Wye - a strategically important location. The place was overseen by William FitzOsbern, who also owned nearby Chepstow Castle, a larger fortification established at the same time.

The masonry tower was added around 1150, and the adjoining great hall a hundred years later, soon followed by other rooms, a northern (round) tower, an enclosing wall, a courtyard and a bridge over the river. Once defensive requirements lapsed, in the 14th and 15th centuries, parts of the castle were redeveloped and incorporated into the surrounding town, then more was lost during and shortly following the English Civil War (1645-1647), and the remains of the northern tower were removed around 1673; some of its masonry was used to build Great Castle House on the same site, a building that is currently used as a regimental museum.


The castle lies at the end of a short, narrow side road (Castle Hill), west of Monnow Street (the B4293) in Monmouth town centre. Parking is available along the main road or in a larger area along nearby Glendower Street. The road ends at a private yard, with Great Castle House to the right and the castle itself at the far side, next to another relatively recent building, the whitewashed Little Castle House which was originally a dispensary, and was built around 1810.


The most prominent part of the castle visible today is the great tower; this has a doorway at ground level, several small Norman windows at different heights and two larger, more decorative windows that were added more recently. The tower originally had two floors - an enclosed cellar below, and a hall above, and the main entrance was on the first floor; the lower door was added in the late 13th century after construction of the adjoining great hall, the other main remnant. This was a single story room, illuminated by three windows, of which two are bricked up and one remains open, overlooking the Reserve Services Memorial Garden to one side. The garden is not normally open and because the castle is in the other directions bordered either by private land or wooded slopes, the overall views are quite limited.