Built in the early 12th century, St Briavel’s was an important royal castle on the frontier with Wales and the administrative and judicial centre of the Forest of Dean – a royal hunting ground where the game was protected and the king alone allowed to hunt.
Edward I added a fine twin-towered gatehouse to St Briavel's in 1292. During his reign the castle was a crossbow bolt factory, using local Forest of Dean iron to produce weapons for his campaigns against the Welsh and Scots. After the conquest of Wales the gatehouse became a debtor's prison, and the castle is now a youth hostel, set in wonderful walking country.
Read more about the history of St Briavels.
Before You Go
Parking: Very limited free parking is available to the right of the entrance ramp.
Opening Times: The exterior of the castle and moat can be viewed during any reasonable daylight hours. The inner bailey and courtyard can be visited 11am-4pm from April to October. As the castle is a working Youth Hostel there is no access to the interior.
Facilities: Toilets and a café are available to visitors during opening hours.
Dogs: Assistance dogs only.
Plan a Great Day Out
St Briavels is a great base for local walks including Offa's Dyke Path. English Heritage manages a three mile section of the dyke. From the Devil's Pulpit you can enjoy panoramic views of Tintern Abbey.
The Youth Hostel Association host various events and activities throughout the year. Visit their website for more information.
The Forest of Dean has a wealth of attractions and activities and is well worth exploring further. The Forestry Commission's Beechenhurst Lodge is a short drive away and is a good place to find out more.
Also nearby is Goodrich Castle, one of the finest and best preserved of all English medieval castles. The castle boasts a fascinating history, spectacular views from the battlements and a delightful tearoom.
English Heritage cares for over 400 historic buildings, monuments and places - from world-famous prehistoric sites to grand medieval castles, from Roman forts on the edges of empire to a Cold War bunker. Through these, we bring the story of England to life for over 10 million people each year. The English Heritage Trust is a charity, no. 1140351, and a company, no. 0744722, registered in England.
- 66% Self-generated income
- 20% One off capital grant
- 14% Government funding