This next photo was taken from within the castle looking accross to the Wye Valley. You can see a ruined tower in this photo and many birds were roosting in the ruins. Chepstow Castle was successively added to over many years and was originally built by the Earl of Hereford, William FitzOsbern who was one of William the Conqueror's trusted officers, and was given the job of helping to maintain order and put down rebellions along the southern border with Wales. FitzOsbern began construction on Chepstow Castle in 1067. It was the first stone castle built in Wales, and its Great Hall is the oldest surviving stone fortification in Britain.
Chepstow Castle was remodeled and expanded several times in its life: it was expanded and fortified in the 12th century; in the 13th century a complex of rooms known as the domestic range was added; and in the 16th and 17th centuries it was further fortified. During and after the Civil Wars in England, it served as a prison. Among its inmates were the Royalist Bishop Jeremy Taylor and the regicide Henry Marten. The tower in which Marten was housed for the last 20 years of his life is now known as Marten's Tower and is the big tower in the first photo.
The photo above shows one of the heavy wooden doors within the castle and below is a shot taken in one of the towers showing a narrow stairway with an arch leading to an external walkway to another tower (this shot was not so easy to get!). There were not many people at the castle when I visited - a symptom I think of the time of year and the fact that shopping seems to be the main past time in the UK now, but it was quiet there and the lack of modern noise meant that you really got a feel for the 'heaviness' of the years and the history of the place.The photo below was taken inside one of the large halls where you could see the remains of some of the sumptious decorative stonework there. The archwork that held up the long gone roof must have been beautiful. The owners of the castle would also have decorated the plasterwork that once lined the internal walls (most of it long gone but traces were still evident in places) and of sourse there would have been tapestries and large fires to warm the rooms. Many of the large fireplaces were still visible.
This final photograph is looking from within the castle back towards the main entrance, so it really does give you a sense of how big this castle is. The sun was going in at this point as the clouds returned but I wanted to inlude this picture so that you could get a sense of the size and to show you that the castle was built on a cliff right next to the River Wye. Behind the castle you can see some of residential chepstow. Just imagine having this the castle and the river as a view!