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From Castle to Hostel

By Linda Tancs

St. Briavels Castle began in the 12th century as a significant means of defense against the campaigns of the Welsh. Strategically located in the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire, it reaped the benefits of the area’s renown as a center of the medieval iron industry and the manufacture of crossbow bolts. Under King Edward I, thousands of crossbow bolts were produced at the castle in preparation for the king’s defensive campaigns. Once the conquest of Wales was completed, the castle served as a debtor’s prison. These days, the castle’s gatehouse prison serves as a youth hostel. Due to this use, access to the interior is limited; visitors should call ahead. However, the exterior of the castle and moat can be viewed during daylight hours, and there is seasonal access (April to October) to the inner bailey and courtyard.


To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

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