The Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological
Trust Historic Environment Record
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Primary Reference Number (PRN) : 01173g Trust : Glamorgan Gwent Community : Chepstow Unitary authority : Monmouthshire NGR : ST5333094113 Site Type (preferred type first) : Medieval Castle Status : Scheduled Monument , listed building I
Summary : Phillips notes that Chepstow Castle (also known as Striguil) comprises a large masonry edifice on a natural rock outcrop with no evidence of a motte or an earth/timber construction built on the site. He notes that it is one of the first, if not first stone built castles in Wales and has masonry of Roman origin within the original structure. He suggests that the castles position on the river provides an offensive military location guarding the port and waterway into Wales (Philips 2004).
Description : The initial castle at Chepstow was constructed c. 1070, after William fitz Osbern was granted the earldom of Hereford. The town of Chepstow is known to have been established by 1075, when it was valued at 16, however finds of Roman date suggest it is possible there was an earlier settlement in the area if not on the same site. Chepstow is strongly defensive in nature, due not only to the dominant castle, but also to the encircling town wall, known locally as the Port Wall, constructed by the Bigods in the thirteenth century. The main defensive element to survive at Chepstow is the medieval Anglo-Norman castle (PRN 01173g, NPRN 95237, LB 2475, MM003); a substantial stone built structure, which acted as the caput of the Marcher lordship of Chepstow.
The Great Tower of Chepstow Castle is considered to have been built following the forfeit of the castle to the Crown after 1075. A major programme of building took place under William Marshal (between 1189 and 1219) and the upper and middle bailey defences date to the period, the lower bailey was also constructed, though this was subsequently rebuilt. In the last quarter of the thirteenth century, Roger Bigod, 5th Earl of Norfolk succeeded to the ownership of the Castle, and built the major suite of apartments in the lower bailey, as well as the massive South East tower (Martens Tower). The Great Tower's upper storey was extended, and the upper barbican tower built. In the sixteenth century timber domestic ranges (now lost) were added to both sides of the middle bailey curtain wall. During the seventeenth century the Castle was refortified to resist artillery fire and Chepstow played an important role during the Civil Wars; initially held by the Royalists, it was captured in 1645 and became the seat of the Parliamentary Committee for Monmouthshire. During the Second Civil War the Royalists under Sir Nicholas Kemeys recaptured Chepstow, though it later fell again to Parliamentary forces. The castle, used as a state prison until the end of the seventeenth century (Turner 2006), was more recently used as a Home Guard Store and Training area during the Second World War (Defence of Britain Project CBA 2002, reference number 13580). (Gerrard, Graham and Roberts 2009, 27)
Phillips notes that Chepstow Castle (also known as Striguil) comprises a large masonry edifice on a natural rock outcrop with no evidence of a motte or an earth/timber construction built on the site. He notes that it is one of the first, if not first stone built castles in Wales and has masonry of Roman origin within the original structure. He suggests that the castles position on the river provides an offensive military location guarding the port and waterway into Wales (Philips 2004).
The area of Chepstow has been well-populated since the Iron Age. The castle was founded between 1067-71 by William fitz Osbern and changed hands a number of times. The excavation identified four areas of archaeological interest (Williams 1994).
An excavation outside the Porch of the Great Hall of Chepstow castle in 1999 revealed footings belonging to a structure pre-dating the main hall and the cellar entrance. (Schlee 1999).
An excavation carried out within the middle bailey of Chepstow Castle revealed evidence of metalworking in the form of slag flows and prills and hearth cakes in this part of the castle during the late12th to 14th centuries (Trott 2003).