Abergavenny Castle was established by the Norman lord Hamelin de Balun c. 1087. It was built to overlook the River Usk and its valley, and so guard against incursions into the lowland areas south and east of the town by the Welsh from the hills to the north and west.

The castle was then the scene of an infamous massacre. Over Christmas 1175 De Braose called Seisyll and his son Geoffrey to his castle, together with other leaders from Gwent, supposedly as an act of reconciliation. De Braose then had the men killed in the castle's great hall, in retribution for the death of Henry Fitzmiles. His action, including taking the men's land, resulted in sanctions: William was 'retired' from public life and the castle passed to his son, William. In 1182 Hywel ap Iorwerth, lord of Caerleon, ordered the destruction of Dingestow Castle and had Abergavenny Castle set afire in retribution for the murder of Seisyll. The attacks were made by Seisyll's relatives. De Braose was not at the castle when it was burnt, but 'most of his men' were taken hostage.

The castle was almost entirely rebuilt of local Old Red Sandstone, starting about 1190, to make it easier to defend. Five towers were built along the curtain walls, and a keep was built. The English and Welsh fought for control of the Welsh Marches and, during this time, possession of the castle alternated between the Welsh and English. In 1215, the castle was visited by John, King of England.

In 1404, during the rebellion of Owain Glyndŵr, the town of Abergavenny was sacked and burned by Welsh forces. The fortified, or barbican, gatehouse, may date from either just before, or just after, that date.

The castle, now in ruins, had a stone keep, towers, and ditch as fortifications. It also housed the family and army of the lord and had cellars, kitchens, a great hall, gatehouse, and a chapel, although it is doubtful whether any of the families treated the castle as their main residence. A curtain wall surrounded the castle.

The high, formidable curtain wall, dating from the 12th century, is now the most impressive part of the ruin. A 19th century lodge was built on the top of the motte in the 19th century.

The castle's museum is located in the 1819 hunting lodge on top of the motte. Amongst the museum's exhibits are a saddler's workshop and a Victorian Welsh farmhouse kitchen.


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Founded: 1087
Category: Castles and fortifications in United Kingdom

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User Reviews

dennis davies (4 months ago)
We attended the food exhibition in and around Abergavenny. The museum area was covered in small venues for drink and food and an exhibition by a chef on how to cook fish in banana leaves. Excellent.what a fantastic venue for this item.
Matthew Davis (5 months ago)
Well worth a visit if you are in Abergavenny, it's just a short walk from the main shopping area and has some lovely views and some nice information boards which bring the site to life.. There's also details about a very Game of Thrones incident on this site back in the Twelfth Century - the Christmas Massacre, which was fascinating and gruesome.
Wendy (5 months ago)
Very informative of the area around museum. Surprised at number of exhibits,very good. Recommended a visit.
Paul Stimson (5 months ago)
Set in the 12 century grounds of The Castle ruins. Worth a visit. Good inexpensive parking nearby.
Alison Burns (5 months ago)
Interesting place to look round, plenty of picknick benches to have a peaceful lunch in pretty surroundings
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Lorca Castle

Castle of Lorca (Castillo de Lorca) is a fortress of medieval origin constructed between the 9th and 15th centuries. It consists of a series of defensive structures that, during the Middle Ages, made the town and the fortress an impregnable point in the southeast part of the Iberian Peninsula. Lorca Castle was a key strategic point of contention between Christians and Muslims during the Reconquista.

Archaeological excavations have revealed that the site of the castle has been inhabited since Neolithic times.

Muslim Era

It has not been determined exactly when a castle or fortress was first built on the hill. The first written documentation referring to a castle at Lorca is of Muslim origin, which in the 9th century, indicates that the city of Lurqa was an important town in the area ruled by Theudimer (Tudmir). During Muslim rule, Lorca Castle was an impregnable fortress and its interior was divided into two sections by the Espaldón Wall. In the western part, there was an area used to protect livestock and grain in times of danger. The eastern part had a neighbourhood called the barrio de Alcalá.

After Reconquista

Lorca was conquered by the Castilian Infante Don Alfonso, the future Alfonso X, in 1244, and the fortress became a key defensive point against the Kingdom of Granada. For 250 years, Lorca Castle was a watchpoint on the border between the Christian kingdom of Murcia and the Muslim state of Granada.

Alfonso X ordered the construction of the towers known as the Alfonsina and Espolón Towers, and strengthened and fixed the walls. Hardly a trace of the Muslim fortress remained due to this reconstruction. Muslim traces remain in the foundation stones and the wall known as the muro del Espaldón.

The Jewish Quarter was found within the alcazaba, the Moorish fortification, separated from the rest of the city by its walls. The physical separation had the purpose of protecting the Jewish people in the town from harm, but also had the result of keeping Christians and Jews separate, with the Christians inhabiting the lower part of town.

The remains of the Jewish Quarter extended over an area of 5,700 square m, and 12 homes and a synagogue have been found; the synagogue dates from the 14th century and is the only one found in the Murcia. The streets of the town had an irregular layout, adapted to the landscape, and is divided into four terraces. The synagogue was in the central location, and around it were the homes. The homes were of rectangular shape, with various compartmentalized rooms. The living quarters were elevated and a common feature was benches attached to the walls, kitchens, stand for earthenware jars, or cupboards.

Modern history

With the disappearance of the frontier after the conquest of Granada in 1492, Lorca Castle no longer became as important as before. With the expulsion of the Jews by order of Ferdinand and Isabella, Lorca Castle was also depopulated as a result. The castle was abandoned completely, and was almost a complete ruin by the 18th century. In the 19th century, the castle was refurbished due to the War of Spanish Independence. The walls and structures were repaired or modified and its medieval look changed. A battery of cannons was installed, for example, during this time. In 1931 Lorca Castle was declared a National Historic Monument.

Currently, a parador (luxury hotel) has been built within the castle. As a result, archaeological discoveries have been found, including the Jewish Quarter.