This market town with a 14,000 population is located 6 miles from the English border within the Welsh Marches just south of the Black Mountains, part of the Brecon Beacons National Park. Offa's Dyke Path National Trail passes nearby and the Beacons Way, Marches Way and the Usk Valley Walk all pass through Abergavenny.
Abergavenny Castle is sited above the River Usk, a naturally defensible site that has probably been used as such since the Bronze Age. The early motte was built at the end of the C11th but was subsequently sacked and control of the castle passed back and forth during the turbulent years of the C12th as the Welsh Marches changed hands between English and Welsh forces.
Much of the castle was damaged badly in the Civil War when the castle suffered slighting to prevent it subsequently becoming a stronghold. In the late C19th the present square 'keep' building was constructed on top of the motte as a hunting lodge for the Marquess of Abergavenny. This now houses the Abergavenny Museum with displays that tell the story of the town from prehistory through to the present day.
In 1657 the right was confirmed to hold two weekly markets and three yearly fairs and today various retail markets are held weekly plus a flea market on Wednesdays and with monthly antique fairs, craft fairs and a farmers market. The town has become a haven for 'foodies' and hosts a major Food Festival in September.
Llanover is a listed 15 acre garden and arboretum about 4 miles south of Abergavenny, begun in the C18th and including streams, canals, cascades, ponds, lawns and a circular walled garden. Penpergwm Lodge is 3 miles south-east of Abergavenny - a beautiful listed 3 acre garden dating from Edwardian times.
White Castle is a medieval castle located to the east of Abergavenny; it is known as one of the Three Castles in the Monnow Valley, the others being at Grosmont and at Skenfrith. Hubert de Burgh added four round towers to the inner ward of White Castle in between 1229 and 1232 and two years later added the two great D-shaped towers to the inner ward and built the masonry outer ward. Although White Castle was involved during the rebellion of Owain Glyndwr in 1404-05, it never subsequently played a major role in military matters and by 1538 the castle was abandoned and in ruins. White Castle was given to the State in 1922, and is now conserved and maintained by Cadw.
Grosmont Castle is situated 8 miles north-east of Abergavenny near to the present Wales/England border. Of the remains visible today, the great hall was one of the first features constructed of the castle and between 1224 and 1226 Earl Hubert de Burgh gave the castle much of its current appearance including the D-shaped towers. In 1267 King Henry III granted the castle to his second son, the 1st Earl of Lancaster, who undertook the conversion of the castle into one of his main residences. This work involved raising the height and extending the south-west tower to make it into a five storey tower with living quarters.
South-west of Abergavenny, the Blaenavon Industrial Landscape was listed in 2000 as a World Heritage site and shows how South Wales was the major producer of both coal and iron in the C19th. The area around the town of Blaenavon contains remarkably complete, well-preserved material evidence of the coal mining and iron making industries, which led to the world's first Industrial Revolution. Visitors can see how people lived and worked in the quarries, mines, furnaces, houses, public buildings and an early railway system. This is a fascinating 'cultural landscape' exhibiting the combined works of nature and man. Among the features of the World Heritage site are Blaenavon Ironworks (the most modern in the world in 1789), the renowned Bit Pit National Mining Museum (greatest in the world around 1900) and the landscape, almost half of which is in Brecon Beacons National Park.