Castle of the Week 67 – Llantilio Castle

After seeing Llantilio Castle (also known as White Castle) in Wales, we were in awe of its defences and surprised at its lack of fame. It is a truly great castle, which would be a very hard castle to siege. We came up with the idea of sharing our experience by making an article and a map for you to download.

White Castle / Llantilio is by far the most impressive castles of the Trilateral, the others being Grosmont and Skenfrith. It is also the most important of the three and possibly the oldest. The Castle is built on a nameless low hill. It is now about a mile from the village of Llantilio Crossenny. It is called white castle because of the white rendering which is still visible on parts of the exterior walls.

The earthworks of White Castle compromise three separate enclosures. In the centre is the pear-shaped inner ward, surrounded by a wet moat with stone revetted sides, and containing the walls and towers of the main defences of the castle. To the south is a crescentic hornwork. On the north – the side from which visitors approach the castle – is an outer ward with its own stone curtain wall, towers, and a gatehouse surmounting the basic earthworks.

Together with Grosmont and Skenfrith, these so-called “three castles” formed an important strategic triangle controlling this area of the southern March. These castles were the strongholds of the barony of Grosmont. All three were royal castles in the later 12th century, and in 1201 were granted to Hubert de Burgh by King John. Unlike the other two, however, De Burgh didn’t rebuild White Castle in the new defensive style of the early 13th century.

1182 King Henry II ordered White Castle refortified. The royal engineer Ralph Grosmont did the job Henry requested and made the castle similar to what it is today. This work was finished in 1187 and the castle remained unaltered until 1229, when royal records show that Hubert Burgh began to alter the site.

The most noticeable feature of the castle is the late 13th-century gate. It was because of this great new work that the castle ceased to be known as Llantilio Castle and took on its modern name of White Castle. The gatehouse was built by Earl Hubert Burgh of Kent.

The castle had such great defences that attackers were always too daunted to attempt a siege.

Write-up and download courtesy of NAT. Pictures courtesy of Castles of Wales.


Download Llantilio Castle