Travel Guides Crafted by Experienced Archaeologists & Historians

Welsh Borders
Art, History & Archaeology Sites & Museums

The Borders is a largely rural region stretching along Wales’ boundary with England – a boundary that emerged in the Middle Ages, having meant little in the prehistoric and Roman periods. Probably created largely in the 8th century, Offa’s Dyke passed through the Borders to divide the Welsh territories from the English kingdom of Mercia. Later in the Middle Ages, fortifications proliferated in the Border region, as Anglo-Norman Marcher Lords sought to cement their dominance over Welsh subjects, leaving behind such castles as Chepstow, Grosmont, and Skenfrith. In response, Welsh princes also created their own castles, as at Dolforwyn. However, perhaps the Borders’ finest castle, that at Raglan, only appeared centuries after England fully conquered Wales in the 13th century. Other survivals of the medieval landscape in this region include ecclesiastical establishments like Tintern Abbey and the priories at Llanthony and Monmouth. The counties included in the Borders region are Powys and Monmouthshire.

Archaeology & History Sites in Welsh Borders

Chepstow Castle

Situated on a narrow cliff-top overlooking the Wye River, Chepstow Castle is Britain’s oldest surviving post-Roman stone fortification. Building began in about 1067 AD under the Norman Earl William FitzOsbern, after which it helped facilitate the Norman conquest of Gwent. Among its medieval features are the oldest known castle doors in Europe. Construction continued until the 17th century, when the castle was again on the front line in the English Civil War. Chepstow is the southern-most castle in a string of castles built along the Anglo-Welsh border.

Dolforwyn Castle

A typically Welsh castle with spectacular views over the Severn Valley, Dolforwyn Castle has been heavily reconstructed following two decades of archaeological excavations. Construction on the fortification began in 1273 by Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, Prince of Gwynedd, in an attempt to assert his claim to be the most important of the Welsh princes. Shortly following the castle’s completion, English forces under the Marcher lord Roger Mortimer successfully besieged it. After being abandoned in the 14th century, Dolforwyn fell into a state of ruin.

Grosmont Castle