Chepstow Castle

Top choice in Southeast Wales

Imposing Chepstow Castle perches atop a limestone cliff overhanging the river, guarding the main river crossing from England into South Wales. It is one of the oldest castles in Britain – building started in 1067, less than a year after William the Conqueror invaded England. The impressive Great Tower dates from this time and includes bricks plundered from the nearby Roman town of Caerwent. It was extended over the centuries, resulting in a long, narrow complex snaking along the hill.

There are plenty of towers, battlements and wall walks to explore and lots of green space in between. Keep an eye out for the primitive latrines extending over the river and for the oldest surviving castle door in Europe, a massive wooden barrier dated to before 1190 and used in the main gateway until 1962.

A cave in the cliff below the castle (sadly, no longer accessible to the public) is one of many places where legend says King Arthur and his knights are napping until the day they're needed to save Britain.

Once the entire town was wrapped in fortified walls, bolting it to the castle. Parts of the 13th-century Port Wall, edging the western side of the town centre, can be seen from the Welsh St car park and near the train station. Chepstow's main street, High St, passes through the Gate House, the original city gate, which was restored in the 16th century.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Southeast Wales attractions

1. Chepstow Museum

0.11 MILES

Housed in an 18th-century town house just across the road from the castle, this small, child-friendly museum covers Chepstow's industrial and social…

2. St Mary's Priory Church

0.15 MILES

Elements of this venerable church, including the wonderful zigzag-patterned arches of its Romanesque doorway, date from the 11th century. It was once part…

3. Gate House & Port Wall

0.24 MILES

Once all of Chepstow was enclosed in fortifications, fastening it to the castle. The main street still passes through the original city gate, which was…

4. Tintern Abbey

3.63 MILES

The haunting riverside ruins of this sprawling monastic complex have inspired poets and artists through the centuries, most notably William Wordsworth,…

5. Clearwell Caves

9.14 MILES

Descend into the damp subterranean world of a 4500-year-old iron and ochre mine, comprising a warren of dimly lit passageways, caverns and pools, and home…

6. Blaise Castle House

9.75 MILES

This late-18th-century house, tucked into the northern suburb of Henbury, is home to a social-history museum showcasing vintage toys, costumes and an…

7. Puzzlewood

9.78 MILES

A pre-Roman open-cast iron mine, overgrown with eerie moss-covered trees, Puzzlewood is a 6-hectare woodland web of paths, weird rock formations, tangled…

8. Berkeley Castle

9.85 MILES

This superb red-stone castle has been home to the Berkeleys for nearly 900 years, and little has changed since it was built as a sturdy Norman fortress…