Three castles, three days, three writers in Wales’ border country

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Over an early summer weekend, three writer friends trek through the hills of Monmouthshire, mapping the medieval lordship of Three Castles

The castles of Grosmont, Skenfrith and White Castle lie west of the border. Just. For a millennium they’ve hunkered in that hinterland where England shoulders up against Wales. As we set off uphill from Grosmont there’s nothing more aggressive going on than a little haymaking, the hum of a distant tractor is masked by a brisk wind through oak leaves; but in the past there have been tensions. Building a castle – building three – is not, after all, an act of friendship. Strictly speaking, though, it wasn’t the English who flexed their muscles here but the French; Normans, who, in the wake of conquest, sat down on the doorsteps of Welsh chieftains and made themselves at home.

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