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 limited access to the interior, please call ahead to check - 01594 530272.
Facilities: Toilets and a café are available to visitors during opening hours.
Dogs: Assistance dogs only.
Please be aware: English Heritage does not permit drone flying from or over sites in our care, except by contractors or partners undertaking flights for a specific purpose, who satisfy stringent CAA criteria, have the correct insurances and permissions, and are operating under controlled conditions.
Please do not climb on the walls.
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.
Don't miss the Heritage Open Days on 14th and 15th September, featuring;
A free castle tour; journey through over 800 years of history, discovering hidden secrets along the way.
Roam freely around the castle and its grounds at your own pace
"Have a go" archery sessions (a small charge applies, with all funds going to the YHA Breaks for Kids charity)
Free arts and crafts courses. Make your own dagger or crown, dip your own candle or design a medieval tile.
Free games and activities. We have a range of fun challenges and games for all ages.
Enjoy the Mummers play performances at 11.30 and 3pm on Sunday, a tradition dating back hundreds of years.
Refreshments will be available in the Old Stables Cafe, including light lunches, cakes, ice creams and a range of hot and cold beverages.
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.