Crickhowell Castle is a Grade I listed building in Crickhowell, Wales, now largely ruined. The remaining sections of the castle walls and motte stand on a spur where a tributary stream meets the River Usk, in a more elevated position than the rest of the town, which was planned around it. It has been suggested that the castle replaced an earlier motte-and-bailey structure at nearby Maescelyn, where St Mary's Chapel, which has existed since around 1300, has also been linked with the castle by some historians. The motte is oval in shape and is still clearly visible, whilst the foundations of the shell keep are largely buried. Traces of the castle bailey have been identified in the nearby playing field.
The castle was initially a motte and bailey castle built from around 1121, probably by Robert Turberville, a member of the notable Norman family, who at the time was a tenant of the Marcher lord Bernard de Neufmarché. In 1172 it was attacked by Welsh rebels, led by one Seisyllt ap Rhirid. Henry de Turberville (died 1239), the son of another Robert, was Seneschal of Gascony in the years 1226–1231 and again in 1237–1238, and Crickhowell Castle was held at the time by a Richard Turberville. Edmund de Turberville is recorded as lord of Crickhowell later in the century. Hugh Turberville, who held Crickhowell Castle from 1273, not as tenant-in-chief but as mesne lord, also held the position of Seneschal of Gascony. Hugh's services were called upon by King Edward I of England to train Welsh men-at-arms and transform the royal levy into a disciplined medieval army capable of conquering Wales; he led both cavalry and 6,000 infantry recruited in the Welsh Marches for King Edward's forces. He was later Constable of Castell y Bere in Merionethshire. He fought against Rhys ap Maredudd during his rising from 1287 to 1291, and died in 1293, the last of the family in the direct line.
The castle was refortified in stone from 1242 when Sybil Turberville, Hugh's daughter, married Sir Grimbold Pauncefote, who thus gained possession. It was walled with substantial stone towers and a large bailey, a home castle befitting an important Royal ally in Wales. The castle was in the hands of the powerful Mortimer family dynasty of Marcher Lords and in the 14th century and declined as a smaller holding within a large portfolio of lands, titles and larger castles.
On the Royal command of new King King Henry IV in 1400, it was again refortified, this time by Sir John Pauncefote, great-grandson of Sir Grimbold, in advance of the uprising led by Owain Glyndŵr. The castle was largely destroyed in about 1403 by Glyndŵr's forces. who also attacked and burned Abergavenny town and other settlements in the area. It was at this time that the castle is thought to have been abandoned, subsequent stone-robbing leaving only the ruined stone double tower on Castle Green. However, 19th century illustrations suggest that its condition has deteriorated noticeably in the past century.References:
The Broch of Gurness is an Iron Age broch village. Settlement here began sometime between 500 and 200 BC. At the centre of the settlement is a stone tower or broch, which once probably reached a height of around 10 metres. Its interior is divided into sections by upright slabs. The tower features two skins of drystone walls, with stone-floored galleries in between. These are accessed by steps. Stone ledges suggest that there was once an upper storey with a timber floor. The roof would have been thatched, surrounded by a wall walk linked by stairs to the ground floor. The broch features two hearths and a subterranean stone cistern with steps leading down into it. It is thought to have some religious significance, relating to an Iron Age cult of the underground.
The remains of the central tower are up to 3.6 metres high, and the stone walls are up to 4.1 metres thick. The tower was likely inhabited by the principal family or clan of the area but also served as a last resort for the village in case of an attack.
The broch continued to be inhabited while it began to collapse and the original structures were altered. The cistern was filled in and the interior was repartitioned. The ruin visible today reflects this secondary phase of the broch's use.
The site is surrounded by three ditches cut out of the rock with stone ramparts, encircling an area of around 45 metres diameter. The remains of numerous small stone dwellings with small yards and sheds can be found between the inner ditch and the tower. These were built after the tower, but were a part of the settlement's initial conception. A 'main street' connects the outer entrance to the broch. The settlement is the best-preserved of all broch villages.
Pieces of a Roman amphora dating to before 60 AD were found here, lending weight to the record that a 'King of Orkney' submitted to Emperor Claudius at Colchester in 43 AD.
At some point after 100 AD the broch was abandoned and the ditches filled in. It is thought that settlement at the broch continued into the 5th century AD, the period known as Pictish times. By that time the broch was not used anymore and some of its stones were reused to build smaller dwellings on top of the earlier buildings. Until about the 8th century, the site was just a single farmstead.
In the 9th century, a Norse woman was buried at the site in a stone-lined grave with two bronze brooches and a sickle and knife made from iron. Other finds suggest that Norse men were buried here too.