The history of the castle and museum - Monlife

The history of the castle and museum

It is widely believed that the motte at Abergavenny Castle was built by the Norman Lord Hamelin de Ballon in 1087 AD. The original tower, built at the top of the motte, would have been a wooden construction, and beneath the motte was the bailey, which is a courtyard containing the outbuildings and stables.

The first Great Hall in the castle was probably a timber building. Within this Hall, on Christmas Day 1175, the Norman Lord of Abergavenny, William de Braose, murdered his long-standing Welsh rival Seisyll ap Dyfnwal.

In 1182, the castle was attacked by relatives of the murdered Welshmen. Most of William’s men were captured, but he was not at home. 

The castle was destroyed in 1233 by Richard Marshal, Earl of Pembroke and the Welsh Princes, after which, the keep was rebuilt in stone.

The walls you see today are the remains of a stone Hall built between 1233 and 1295.

The tower complex consisted of two towers, one polygonal and the other circular. Evidence suggests that these towers were built in 1295-1314 at the same time as the town walls, using murage grants – a form of tax raised by the local Lord.

The gatehouse is a typical barbican gatehouse. When the castle wall was first built, in the late 13th to early 14th century, the gate was a simple opening in the curtain wall.

Unusual door features suggest that the gatehouse was added early in the 15th Century. At this time the last Welsh war of independence was being fought against Owain Glyn Dwr.

The keep along with most of the other castle buildings, was destroyed in the Civil War, between 1645 – 1646. In 1819, the present building – now the Museum – was constructed on top of the motte  for the Marquess of Abergavenny.

The history of Abergavenny Museum

The Museum was founded on 2nd July 1959. The idea for a museum dates back to as early as 1903, when it was discussed and minuted by the Abergavenny Free Library Committee. At this meeting, permission was given for the library to begin collecting objects. 

These collections remained at the library until the 1940s when it was said that they were disposed of. The demolition of the historic buildings in Tudor Street and Castle Street during the 1950s once again made people aware of the need for a museum. Alfred Jackson addressed the Rotary Club on 22nd October 1957 and a committee was formed. 

Opening Times

Monday – 11.00 am – 4:00 pm

Tuesday – 11.00 am – 4:00 pm

Wednesday – CLOSED

Thursday – 11.00 am – 4:00 pm

Friday – 11.00 am – 4:00 pm

Saturday – 11.00 am – 4:00 pm

Sunday – 11.00 am – 4:00 pm


Car parking

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Castle Street,



T: 01873 854282

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