Hay view from Castle

Hay view from Castle
Hay-on-Wye, Powys (formerly Breconshire), Wales. The "Town of Books" (and Vaughans!)

Friday, November 24, 2017

Hiraeth 2016: Day 7- Chepstow, Tintern, Raglan, Usk

Now the British Expeditions BYU Professors' tour begins in earnest. Three castles, an abbey, and a couple of other quick stops and it was a whirlwind. So you will see why I was not able to blog contemporaneously. 

We started early every morning piling into the hired van. Professor Tom was the driver/narrator. His niece and friend attempted navigation but Tom usually found his way just fine. He's been around the castle block a few times. Professor Ron had his family with him so he drove in a separate car.

First stop: Chepstow Castle on the cliffs above a wide turn in the Wye before it heads to the Sea.

Orientation by Prof. Tom
Chepstow Castle: No kiddin' built on the cliffs!

Chepstow Castle above the Wye.
The "Chep" part of the name is Old English "ceap/chepe" meaning "market."  We have the modern word "cheap" derived from the marketplace. "Stowe" is "place." Cas-Gwent is the Welsh name. In olden times, you would build a castle to protect your markets and especially shipping. This is a Norman Castle to keep the Welsh markets in line. 

My wife and Prof. Tom getting the rundown on a crossbow from one of the locals.
Supposedly the oldest wooden Castle door in Britain, but they have fully tested the door at Hay Castle yet.
Chepstow has a Vaughan Family connection as it was here that dang Jasper Tudor had the head removed from Roger Vaughan ap Rhosier Fychan during the War of the Roses. History ain't pretty.

Vaulted stone ceiling at Chepstow Castle
Chepstow Castle: It was always interesting to watch the youth groups on tour as we had a few teachers in our contigent.
This also shows how the River Wye has a big curve at Chepstow.
Next up the Wye was Tintern Abbey, one of the more famous sites in Wales thanks to Woodsworth.

I should explain that the roof is missing because at the Dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII, the most valuable part (well, besides any golden sacred images) was the lead roof. The area was sparsely populated so not many farmers needed to take all the stones for their homes and fences.


My wife contemplates Tintern before our picnic with this view.

The beauty of Tintern is its grass floor, sky ceiling, and green hills surrounding. The fusion of stone and natural spirituality.
Tintern Arches
After Tintern, we were off to another ancestral site (I can't help this) Raglan Castle. Home of our illustrious Matriarch, the Lady Gwladys ferch Dafydd Gam.

Raglan with moat.
The Yellow Tower of Gwent at Raglan
That dang Cromwell had his army undermine half of it.
The Blorenge from Raglan. See, it's all in the neighborhood!
Having visited Raglan before, I had reviewed Led Zep's movie The Song Remains the Same because there is a great scene with ramparts of Raglan. I realized that they were shot from the back of the castle so I figured my way around and sure 'nuff!

Raglan from the back.
Raglan Gargoyle
Our final castle of the day was Usk. It is privately owned but they welcome visitors if you drop your coins in the basket. It was a little odd as the presentation standards were not as refined as Cadw (Welsh Heritage), but it was very interesting.

Usk Castle. More of an ivy-covered romantic ruin.
My wife on the wall at Usk Castle.
We close with a happy wife at Usk Castle.
On to the next adventure!

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