Visitors to Usk are often surprised to learn that we have the ruins of a wonderful Norman Castle standing on the hill above the town.
Usk Castle is privately owned but open to the public. It stands in the grounds of the Humphreys’ house and they are most generous in sharing it. As Rosie Humphreys says, “Usk Castle is here for you to discover. Overlooking the town, with views down the Usk valley, the castle is a delight for visitors – for picnics and playing, for exploring and enjoying”.
Simon Jenkins writes in his Wales: Churches, Houses, Castles, that Usk Castle is “everything a Cadw castle is not. It is wild, unmanicured and idiosyncratic. Where a government castle is scrubbed and tidy, Usk respects the dishevelment of age... If ruins must be ruins, let them be like this.”
The building of Usk Castle, begun in the 12th century and added to over the next 300 years, was reduced to ruins half way through the 16th century. In 1405 the site of the bloody Battle of Usk involving Owain Glyndwr.
These days Usk Castle is used for more peaceful purposes. Town pageants and plays are held here and the grounds can be hired for marquee wedding receptions or parties. Civil ceremonies can be held. The Usk Castle Friends organise events – concerts, painting days, history talks – to encourage local involvement and to support conservation grants.