Raglan Castle

Southeast Wales

The last great medieval castle to be built in Wales, Raglan was designed more as a swaggering declaration of wealth and power than a defensive fortress. A magnificent, sprawling complex built of dusky pink and grey sandstone, it was constructed in the 15th and 16th centuries by Sir William ap Thomas and his son William Herbert, the first earl of Pembroke.

Its centrepiece, the lavish Great Tower, a hexagonal keep ringed by a moat, bears a savage wound from the civil wars of the 1640s, when it was besieged by Cromwell's soldiers. After the castle's surrender the tower was undermined, until eventually two of the six walls collapsed. The impressive courtyards beyond the Great Tower display the transition from fortress to grandiose palace, with ornate windows and fireplaces, gargoyle-studded crenellations and heraldic carvings.

Raglan Castle is on the busy A40, 8 miles southwest of Monmouth and 9 miles southeast of Abergavenny. Buses heading between the two stop at Raglan village, which is a five-minute walk from the castle.