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St Briavels Castle, Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire


St Briavels Castle is a medieval castle set in Gloucestershire, built on the edge of a steep scarp above the river Wye. St Briavels was an important Royal castle on the frontier with Wales, and judicial centre of the Forest of Dean. The castle was in Royal possession by the 1160’s and was rebuilt with a small but impressive keep,

Speculation suggests the castle might sit on the site of an earlier earthwork, perhaps a Norman ‘motte and bailey’ arrangement.

The forest of Dean was important being a centre of the medieval iron industry, a vital source of supply for the manufacture of weapons.

The renowned King John  visited the Castle a handful of times his son, Henry III,  did visit the castle from time to time also, and he was responsible for adding a small chapel to his father’s house.

Under Edward I in 1272-1307 thousands of crossbow bolts were produced at the castle in preparation for the king’s Welsh and Scottish campaigns including those campaigns against the Scottish rebel William Wallace.

The existing gatehouse was added by Edward I in 1292-3, this was to improve the defences against Welsh attack, designed as a ‘keep gatehouse’- this could be closed and defended against attack from the front and the rear. With three sets of portcullises that turned the entrance passage into a lethal killing ground.

With the conquest of Wales by the end of 15th century, the castle became unimportant and rapidly declined. Unused buildings were demolished in 1680.

The gatehouse became a prison where accused were held while awaiting trial.

There are still inscriptions which testify to the unwholesomeness of the gaol mutilation was a form of punishment, this served as a public reminder of consequences of breaking the king’s law. An oubliette is still present at the castle and sits at the foot of a bed in one of the guest rooms, one available to us!

The castle was still being used as a debtor’s prison up until 1842.

The castle was renovated during the 20th century, it was then taken over, and from 1948 until present the castle is now used as a youth hostel.

What still walks the castles corridors and staircases? Who haunts this wonderful Castle?

One of the spirits witnessed is that of someone in a full suit of armour, Seen by many where the castles ‘Keep’ once stood.

A young girl has been reported here also, dressed in white.

During recent renovations, it is said that a baby’s body, wrapped up, was found. Is this the baby said to be heard crying in one of the rooms?

Poltergeist activity is also reported here, with the sound of humming, scuttling noises, furniture dragging, voices and footsteps, people being touched and the sound of ‘something’ dropping like marbles or stones. Beds have been known to move, sheets tugged on, and the sense of someone sitting on the bed has been felt by many!

Disembodied voices are heard throughout the castle. And much more beside

Growling is often heard, leaving you feeling unnerved. Some people have felt as though they are being grabbed or touched by unseen hands. The feeling of being pinned down or strangled has also played its part. Dark figures standing in the doorway seemingly move as if to show there is no escape from the room!

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Fri 28th - Sun 30th September 2018 st_briavel's_castle_research_1