SOME MONMOUTHSHIRE CASTLES by Violet Harding Pratt IN Monmouthshire are to be seen some fine ex- amples of ancient castle architecture, those at Chepstow, Raglan and Abergavenny being among the foremost in historical interest. The building of castles went apace between the years 1100 and 1300. Some fortresses are sup- posed to have played an insignificant part in Welsh fighting until the end of the eleventh cen- tury. And up to that time stone castles were scarce. The usual type then in existence, even of the early Norman castles, was a moated mound surrounded by wooden palisades. Which defence does not now sound very formidable. One reads of William the Conqueror having one built in eight days. An example of this type was Pem- broke Castle at the close of the eleventh century. It was "a slender fortress of stakes and turf," and stood several sieges, one of which, however, turned into a blockade. The garrison was nearly starved out, but, by means of a trick, the con- stable saved the fort.* "With great prudence he caused four hogs which still remained to be cut into small pieces and thrown down among the a enemy. The next day he had recourse to a more refined stratagem he contrived that a letter from him should fall into the hands of the enemy stat- ing that there was no need for assistance for the next four months." The besiegers swallowed the bait and dispersed to their homes! The erection of Chepstow Castle (called Cas- tellum de Estrighoiel in Doomsday Book) has been credited by some antiquaries to the era of Julius Caesar, but appears in realitv to have taken place in the eleventh century. William Fitzos- borne, Earl of Hereford, destined it as a defence for the great possessions around, granted him by his relation, William the Conqueror. However, his son, Roger de Britolio, took up arms against his sovereign, and was deprived of his inheritance. The castle was afterwards transferred to the Clare family, from which it descended to the Plan- tagenets, the Herberts, and the Somersets. The fortress put up a gallant defence with a small garrison against the troops of Oliver Cromwell, but was ultimately taken after a long siege. After the Restoration, the stronghold ob- tained slight retribution in being for twenty years the prison of Henry Marten, one of those who assisted in bringing Charles I. to the block, and afterwards condemned to imprisonment for life. He lived until he was seventy-eight, and was buried in the parish church of Chepstow. And he wrote his own epitaph, the partly obliterated words of which may still be seen engraved on his stone ♦"Mediaeval Wales," by Prof. A. J. Little. HERE September the 9, in the year of our Lord 1680, Was buried a true Englishman, Who in Berkshire was well known To love his country's freedom 'bove his own, But living immured full twenty year, Had time to write as does appear, HIS EPITAPH. Here or elsewhere (all's one to you, to me), Earth, air, or water, gripes my ghostless dust; None knows how soon to be by fire set free Reader, if you an oft tryed rule will trust, You'll gladly do and suffer what you must. My life was spent in serving you, and you, And death's my pay (it seems) and welcome too; Revenge destroying but itself, while I To birds of prey leave my old cage, and fly; Examples preach to th' eye, care then (mine says) Not how you end, but how you spend your dayes. During the last twenty years Raglan Castle has altered a great deal, but its glories are still far from being so much in ruin that one cannot suc- cessfully picture past grandeurs. Sir William ap Thomas and his son, the Earl of Pembroke, are thought to be mainly responsible for its construc- tion in the reign of Henry V., additions being made by the Earls of Worcester. The first Marquess supported a garrison of 800 men there; and, on the surrender of the castle, besides his own family and friends, the officers present were four colonels, eighty-two captains, sixteen lieuten- ants, six cornets, four ensigns, four quarter- masters, and fifty-two esquires and gentlemen in addition. The above mentioned son of Sir William ap Thomas, also named William, was created Lord of Raglan, Chepstow and Gower by Edward IV. He was entrusted with the custody of the Earl of Richmond, afterwards Henry VII., who was im- prisoned for some time in Raglan Castle. Wjilliam (ordered to style himself Lord Herbert in honour of one of his ancestors) was made Earl of Pem- broke in 1469. He raised an army of Welshmen to oppose the Lancastrians under the Earl of Warwick, but was taken prisoner at the battle of Danes Moor and beheaded at Banbury. His son William succeeded to his titles and estates, but died in 1491, leaving only one daughter, Elizabeth, who conveyed to her husband, Sir Charles Somer- set, the castle of Raglan and other estates. The latter was an important man in affairs of state in the reigns of Henry VII. and VIII., and died in 1526. Raglan Castle was one of the last fortresses in the kingdom to succumb to Cromwell's soldiers, being bravely defended by Henry, fifth Earl and