Tretower Court and Castle
The village of Tretower boasts a fine 13th century circular keep and one of the finest late medieval houses in Wales. Together they make up a property which for over 900 years has been altered and adapted to keep up with style and the tastes of the time.
The castle sits in a strategic position on the north bank of the River Usk, where the road through the Usk Valley branches towards Talgarth and the Wye Valley. From here, any medieval lord could exercise control over his land.
The remains that are visible today date from the 13th century, but the original castle on the site was a Norman motte and bailey castle, a large earthen mound topped with wooden defences. It was built during the Norman conquest of the ancient kingdom of Brycheiniog, when powerful Norman nobles settled in Brecon and the surrounding area to establish their control.
This wooden castle was rebuilt in stone in the mid 12th century. A shell keep was built, a hall and solar were erected to the south-west side of the motte and a kitchen was built at a slightly lower level.
The structure was extensively remodelled in the 13th century, when the great tower, which dominates the site today and can be seen from the A40, was built. The tower has three storeys, each with a single room with a fireplace and a window. The foundations of the tower contain a basement.
Tretower Castle was not only for defence. The quality of the ornamental stonework exceeds what is required for defensive purposes alone, ranking it amongst the best castles in Wales. For some of its history at least, this castle was a prized domestic residence and a status symbol. Although in ruins today the castle remains are a powerful reminder of the wealth, status and influence of the lords of Tretower during the medieval period.
By 1400 the domestic residence had moved to Tretower Court, but the castle survived and continued to be used as a military fortress in times of war, such as during Owain Glyn Dwr's uprising.
Tretower Court was built during the 14th century with alterations made in the 15th century.
The buildings are arranged around a courtyard with the oldest along the north wing. This 14th century wing consists of a rectangular building of two storeys. The main rooms are on the upper floor.
In the 15th century west wing there is a hall, solar and service rooms. The building was altered in the 17th century. A 15th century gatehouse stands on the east side with a postern gate to the north. The house and its curtain wall have been much restored in modern times.
Visiting Tretower Court and Castle
Tretower Court and Castle are in the care of Cadw. An entrance fee, which includes use of an audio guide, is payable.
How to get there
The site is in the village of Tretower in the Usk Valley between Abergavenny and Brecon, off the A479, three miles northwest of Crickhowell. Bus route X43, Brecon–Abergavenny, stops 400m away on the A40.
Nearest town or village
OS grid reference
Explorer Map OL13 or Landranger Map 161 - SO185213
Apr–Oct daily 10am–5pm; Nov–Mar Mon–Thu closed, Fri–Sat 10am–4pm, Sun 11am–4pm
Tretower Court and Castle, near Crickhowell NP8 1RD, tel 01874 730279, www.cadw.wales.gov.uk
On the roadside close to the entrance.
The toilets in the grounds include a disabled access toilet (RADAR National Key Scheme).
The ground floor of Tretower Court is level. The grounds have cobbles in the courtyard and firm grass in the garden.