Whilst some castles, such as Caernarfon were built as much for show as for defence, Skenfrith Castle (Ynysgynwraidd) is not like that. It's a brute of a castle.
Positioned beside the River Monnow to command one of the main routes from England, it was built purely to protect its inhabitants. The domestic buildings within the castle are very much an afterthought.
Along with White Castle and Grosmont Castle, Skenfrith is one of the "Three Castles" (also known as the Trilateral Castles) that were built in the Monnow Valley as part of the Norman conquest of South Wales.
Whilst excavations have produced evidence of early earthworks that may have built a few months after the Norman Conquest in 1066, the castle was completely rebuilt between 1219 and 1223 by Hubert de Burgh, who was granted lordship of the Three Castles by King John in 1201. It is the remains of these building we see today. By 1538 all three castles were abandoned and ruinous.
Although Skenfrith is owned by the National Trust, it is in the care of Cadw. It is an open site and may be visited free of charge. Please see Cadw's official site, detailed below, for opening times and further information.
Just to the east of the castle and desperately in need of some TLC is Skenfrith Mill. Although there has been a mill on the site since before 1500, the current building dates from 1867. It was acquired by the Edwards family in 1947.
It was originally driven by an iron undershot waterwheel, the remains of which can be glimpsed through the bushes if you walk right round to the far side of the castle. It was later converted to electricity, and remained operational up until 1995.