The castle stands on the west bank of the Usk; its form is nearly a right-angled parallelogram. The arches of the doors and windows are pointed. There is a large square tower in the middle of the side towards the water, flanked with turrets, and built of a reddish stone or rubble. This might possibly have been the keep, for in it is a slate apartment with a groined roof of stone; below is a large Gothic arch, with the groove for the portcullis and marks of machicolations still remaining. At each end of this front are octagon towers, the most northerly of which is inhabited. The remains of the baronial hall, and of many inferior apartments, are seen in the area: the highly ornamented windows are pointed, and several chimnies appear in the walls. This castle seems to have been strengthened by walls and a deep moat on the side of the town; the moat was filled with earth upon the excavation of the canal.
The castle of Newport is conjectured to have been built by Robert earl of Gloucester and Bristol, natural son of Henry the First, who acquired Newport by marriage with Maud eldest daughter of Robert Fitzhamon, the conqueror of Glamorgan from Jestin ap Gwrgan, and who died of the wounds he received at the siege of Falaise in Normandy 1107, without male issue. He is described as a most accomplished man of his time, and a great patron of learning. He built the castle of Bristol, and very much enlarged that of Cardiff, built by his deceased father-in-law. The existence of a castle at Newport in 1173, during the life of William the son of Robert, is established upon the faith of Powell's History of Wales, who says that: “The King being in Wales, at the New Castel upon Usk, on his way from Ireland, sent for Jorweth ap Owen ap Caradoc to render safe conduct to him, his sons, and friends, intending to conclude a peace with him, and so to quit all Wales. Whereupon Jorweth took his journey towards the king, and sent word to Owen his sonne, being a lustie young gentleman, to meet with him by the waie; but as he came at his father’s commandement, the earll of Bristowe’s men (hearing of it) came forth of the New Castell upon Uske, and laid wait for him by the way (being under the king’s safe conduct, and trusting to his promise) and suddenlie set upon him and murthered him, traiterously, and cowardlie, being unarmed, and having but a few in his companie; which thing when his father heard by some of his men that had escaped, he was verie sorie, and returned home with all his friends and his sonne Howel, and would never afterwards trust neither the Kings promise nor anie Englishmans: but forthwith gathered all the power and friends that he could make, and without mercie destroied all the countrie with fire and sword to the gates of Hereford and Glocester, to avenge the death of his sonne.”
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