Skip to main content

Here are our custodians' suggestions of things to look at and listen to when using Pyka_Lens App at sites...

Chepstow Castle was founded in 1067 by William the Conqueror, just months after the Norman invasion in 1066. This means that the oldest bit — the Great Tower — is one of, if not the, oldest secular (not religious) building in the UK!  Pretty impressive eh? So what areas might you want to seek out to use in your Pyka_Lens around Chepstow Castle? Staff at the castle have made a few suggestions based on areas that we always stop and look at.

So here goes; add your own and let us know too.

Specific areas of visual interest (e.g. landmarks, interesting textures, areas of the site that are usually missed/overlooked/not the main attraction)

We like the PUTLOGS — small holes all over the castle walls which were used by the builders of the castle to fix their scaffolding to. Think of it as a place to put your logs.

While you are looking at the walls, try and find doors and fire places half way up. Why do think this is? Get your detective hats on!

Walk up the spiral staircase to the top of Martens Tower (named after Henry Marten who was imprisoned here for signing the death warrant for Charles I) and spot the figures keeping watch over Chepstow.

Go to The Great Tower, the oldest part of the castle, and look up at the remains of some fancy arches. Look carefully and you will see some faces looking down at you. Look even more carefully at the wall facing you when you walk in. About half way along and half way up you will spot a small carving in the wall. This might be of the Roman goddess Venus. It might have come from the Roman town of Caerwent just down the road. And while we’re on the subject of recycling, take a look at the terracotta (orange) tiles running along the wall at the front of the tower!

Head back down towards the cellar — which is pretty impressive — look at that ceiling! Before you get to the staircase, don’t miss visiting the medieval toilets!

State of the art in their day, but a bit chilly! And at the top of the staircase to your right there is a little balcony, a perfect spot for the ladies of the castle to sit and take in the views

Specific environmental interest (e.g. surrounding scenery, landscape, seasonal wildlife)

The landscape around the River Wye is famous and has been drawn, painted and written about for centuries. In fact, its fair to say that this area was the first package holiday destination, so don’t forget to take in the view!

The trees and foliage growing along the river look different at any time of year, depending on the time of day, the quality of light or the time of year. Check out the many different shades of green or in autumn the reds and golds.

From the river side of the castle look back towards the old bridge. It is two hundred years old. The other side is England. So it’s possible to stand in the middle and be in two countries at once!

Depending what time of day you visit, you will find that the water in the river is very high, or very low. At its lowest it reveals mud banks. The River Wye has the 2nd highest tide in the world! It is easy to see which way the water is flowing — towards the bridge and it is going out into the Severn — away from the bridge and it is coming in.

All sorts of animals enjoy the water. Apart from the seagulls which fly backwards and forwards most of the day, it is possible to see seals, herons and more rarely porpoises! Will you be lucky to see them?

Look at the other side of the castle. This area is known as The Dell. Together with the river, the Dell formed part of the castle’s natural defences. No need for a moat at Chepstow.

Specific areas of sonic interest (e.g. naturally occurring sounds, sounds from installations at the site, areas with interesting echoes or reverberation)

The wind can certainly howl around the castle. It can whip up the leaves and branches of the yew tree in the upper bailey. The castle is home to crows, pigeons and seagulls, all of whom like to make their presence heard! On some days you will hear the church bells ringing from St Mary’s.

Not quite as romantic maybe, but certainly loud, are the army helicopters that sometimes fly low and loud along the river and over the castle, or the sounds of cars and lorries travelling over the new bridge.

And if the wind is in the right direction, it is possible to catch snippets of sound from Chepstow Racecourse.