Chepstow – the origins of settlement

Chepstow – the origins of settlement

As it’s the anniversary of the death of William Marshal today in 1219, here is a snippet of info about the town of Chepstow.

The promontory that Chepstow Castle and surrounds sit on appears to have never been inhabited prehistorically or by the Romans; Chepstow only became settled once the castle had been built between 1067 – 1071 by William FitzOsbern, one of William the Conqueror’s closest companions. A five minute drive away is a suburb called Thornwell, which is actually the original settlement in the area, with a Bronze Age Barrow, Neolithic finds and remains of what was probably a Romano-British farmstead. There was a farm in Thornwell until the 1950’s and the Grade II listed building, Thornwell Farm House, has now been converted to flats; approximately 40 metres away from the house lies an ancient well, now covered by a small industrial estate and the area is thought to be named after a thorn tree that grew by said well.


Thornwell Farmhouse today. Image ©Louise Wyatt


Bronze Age Barrow, complete with tree! Image ©Louise Wyatt.


Between Thornwell and Chepstow lies Bulwark Camp, originally the settlement of the local tribe Silures, who were known to be fierce fighters and who defeated the initial invasion of the Roman legions in approximately AD 52; they were eventually subdued by the Romans in AD 75.  Today the area is a three acre open area amidst a densely populated housing estate and the views are tremendous, overlooking the Severn Estuary and across to Bristol.  A perfect look-out post.


Bulwark Camp, original fort of the Silures. Note the view from the cliff edge across the open ground, looking out across the Severn Estuary with Bristol in the distance. Image ©Louise Wyatt.


The Romans subsequently ignored the land mass we know as Chepstow, instead building a bridge further up the Wye to connect the market city of Caerwent where they settled the Silures (the original name of Venta Silurium meant ‘market town of the Silures’) and the Roman military settlement of Caerleon, to the city of Gloucester.   And then the Normans came and the rest is history!


Part of the remaining Chepstow Port Wall dating from the 13th century. Image ©Louise Wyatt.



More about the area can be found in my book, SECRET CHEPSTOW 🙂





©2020 Louise Wyatt.  All Rights Reserved.

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