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Southern Wales has been fought over for centuries, and this has resulted in the area having over 30 castles scattered across the land that are all open for visits. These include the largest castle in Wales and the first Norman castle built in Wales. There are also lots of smaller, almost forgotten castles that you can explore.

Oldest and Largest

Chepstow Castle, set atop cliffs controlling the main crossing of the River Wye is the oldest stone fortification of its type in Britain. Most early Norman castles were simple earth and timber motte and bailey structures, Chepstow however was different; it was built in stone from the very start, using re-cycled materials from nearby Caerwent Roman town to create a stone tower enclosed by wooden baileys. 

Caerphilly Castle is the largest castle in Wales. It's a medieval architectural gem, created by Gilbert ‘the Red’ de Clare, a redheaded Norman noble. Works started on the castle in 1268 and it was built with a radical and unique concentric ‘walls within walls’ system of defence.

The Three Castles Walk

Skenfrith Castle, White Castle and Grosmont Castle were built to form a strong line of defence on the border of the Marches and to control transport routes into Wales. 

The Three Castles Walk is a 19 mile circular walk that links these three Norman Castles primarily following public rights of way. It runs through the beautiful Monmouthshire countryside and a perfect one or two days' walk from the pressures of everyday life.

You can download the map and guide here.  Celtic Trail Walking Holidays offer a 2 - 4 day package along the route. 

Glorious Decoration

Castell Coch, or the ‘Red Castle’, rises up from the ancient beech woods of Fforest Fawr like a vision from a fairy tale. Amazing as it is, when you get inside its even more glorious. The third Marquess of Bute, gave architect William Burges a free rein to create a dazzling High Victorian masterpiece, around the remains of a 13th-century castle. 

Cardiff Castle was the first creation of the Marquess of Bute and Burges - in the centre of Cardiff, this site has a history dating back over 2000 years, from being a Roman fort to a Norman stronghold, and finally the home for the richest man in the world, who transformed the castle with rich with murals, stained glass and elaborate wood carvings. Each room has its own special theme. 

The Castle grounds are frequently hold amazing events and concerts, and Bute Park that surrounds the Castle is a great place for a walk and picnic.

Castles on the Coast

Another defensive trio are the castles of Ogmore, Coity and Newcastle, which together protected Glamorgan from the Welsh in the west.

Ogmore Castle sits on the banks of the Ewenny River, which is crossed by ancient stepping stones, a challenge that most visitors take.

The nearby Coity Castle is now a romantic ruin, but it was modified and added to through much of its lifetime; it began as an earthwork castle in around AD1100, and changes took place right up until the early 16th century. 

Newcastle Castle is now in the centre of Bridgend. The castle was held by Henry II, and the royal connection probably accounts for the superior quality of the building.