Monday, 18 July 2011

Caerwent and Chepstow Castle

The great thing about driving to the RNA Conference at Caerleon, and staying overnight on the Sunday, is the opportunity it afforded for some sightseeing on the Monday. The area around Caerleon is rich in Iron Age and Roman remains. Caerwent, known as Venta Silurum to the Romans, is just a few miles to the east along the A48. Founded in AD75 it was the only Roman town in Wales. The view below is from close to the Parish church. It's difficult to believe that this village, these quiet fields, were once a thriving Roman town.

Further east, just above Chepstow and overlooking the mouth of the Wye, is Bulwarks Iron Age Camp inhabitated in pre-Roman times by the Welsh tribe of the Silures. There is little to be seen on the ground because the defensive banks and ditches are now overgrown. The cleared area inside is a recreation ground where local people exercise their dogs! An aerial view gives a better idea of how important it must once have been. There are several on the Internet.

Less shy about its location and heritage is Chepstow Castle (above). What a chunk that is in the landscape. The most striking thing about it is its location on cliff at a bend in the River Wye, a river which forms the border between England and Wales. Building on the castle began soon after the Norman conquest in 1066, and one of its most famous residents, just a century later, was William Marshall. This in the entrance he built.

In the picture below is one of its massive gates, looking far more artistic than it was meant to.

Opposite the Castle is Chepstow Museum, definitely worth a visit for the beautiful curving staircase and the cupola-like window above which lights it. The house was built at the end of the 18th Century. The staircase reminds me of one at Tiffany's in Old Bond Street which was once a house lived in by Horatio Nelson and Emma Hamilton.

This last photo is of the view from Chepstow Castle, across the River Wye.


  1. Sorry I had some trouble getting my 'post' to take for some reason, and ended up posting my comment on the RNA conference instead of the Caerleon one. (I did enjoy both posts though, but I have a 'soft spot' for the Caerleon area, and loved the photos.)

  2. Hello again Hywela!
    Caerleon is an attractive town and the scenery there, and along the A48 to Chepstow some of the best. Fortunately I live less than an hour from the Severn Bridge so I will be going back sometime soon, particularly as I'm working on a Romano-British historical romance.
    Best Wishes

  3. MAGGI, HOW I ADORE your blog! The descriptions, the pictures of your travels are wonderful.
    And how I do want to come to the next RNA convention. sob. Saving my pennies!

  4. Glad you like the blog Cerise.
    I've just posted a few more photos, from a day out I enjoyed last summer on the Isle of Portland.
    Re the RNA Conf, what I love is the warm and friendly mix. Everyone talks to everyone else. Newbies - published and unpublished - are never left to feel like Nelly No-mates.

  5. Stunning photos, Maggie. I love following along on your travels. Someday, I hope to see these places in person. Thank you so much for sharing. :)

  6. Absolutely stunning countryside. The Castle almost looks like they cut it out of the cliff face.

  7. Thanks Bronwyn and Simone. What was so wonderful about the Castle was, having got there as soon as it opened, I had it to myself!

    I wish I could have spent more time in the area, particularly as Chepstow is the jumping off point for a scenic tour along the Wye River and Valley, a tour watercolour artists in the late 18th Century used to take. There was an exhibition of their work in Chepstow Museum and a book has been published to accompany it. I'm trying to talk myself out of buying that because I've just splashed out on a teppanyaki grill. But I could take the grill back...

    What would you choose? Teppanyaki grill or a book about 18th century artists?