St Briavels Castle is undoubtedly on of our favourite venues to investigate. The building always seems to be consistently active and it is for this reason that we have held at least a dozen events there over the past few years. Every March FPI have the pleasure of holding an all-weekend event inviting paranormal teams from around the country to come and experience the building for themselves. With guest speakers, experiments and investigation this event has become a major one on everyone’s paranormal calendar.
We were first introduced to the Castle in 2010 when, by chance, we bumped into fellow paranormal enthusiast and Castle expert Ross Andrews, author of the excellent book “Paranormal Forest of Dean”. We teamed up with Ross and Phantomfest for several events at the building and fell completely in love with the place.
In 2012 FPI featured in an episode of Great British Ghosts with Michaela Strachen about St Briavels castle.
St Briavels Castle was built between 1075 and 1130, when Miles de Gloucester the Constable of England garrisoned the Norman castle for King Henry 1 as an ideal site to check the intrusion of the warlike Welsh tribesmen. It is noted in history that his son Mahel was tragically killed here by a falling stone brought down by a small fire whilst entertaining a welsh warrior.
The Castle has been a Norman Fortress, a Royal Castle and Hunting Lodge of King John of England, and was also visited by Henry II, who made the castle the administrative and judicial centre for the Forest of Dean. It has also been a prison, a school and a private house, but today it is a youth hostel.
St Briavels Castle also had an important military function as centre for the distribution of crossbow bolts made in the Forest forges.
It is believed that St Briavels is named after a Christian missionary St Brioc who was born in Wales circa 420, he was ordained in France returning to England as a missionary, becoming known for performing miracles in Cornwall and South West Wales, history suggests that he stopped a plague.
It is said that a long pole hung outside the courtroom on which nine men could be hung at the same time.
One form of execution that took place was ‘oubliette’, which comes from the French word to “forget”. The prisoner was thrown down a 24ft shaft, the trap door was closed and death was from starvation, if the fall itself wasn’t enough.
Graffiti on one of the walls of the gatehouse, which was a prison, says: Robin Belcher. The day will come that thou hast sworn against me, 1761
There are ghosts stories connected to each and every room in the Castle, far too many to mention here. For anyone interested we would highly recommend any of the excellent books written by Ross Andrews on the subject.
As a Team FPI have experienced so much paranormal activity at the Castle. Light anomalies, unexplained noises, Class A EVP, massive temperature fluctuations, shadows caught on camera, pushes, prods etc. One guest who bravely slept in the “scary bed” of the oubliette claimed that he was psychically attacked during the early hours of the morning. A member of his own paranormal team, he is a very credible witness but was more than a little shaken up by the experience.
St Briavels Castle is definitely one venue that any serious paranormal enthusiast has to visit. Why not come along to one of the many events that we hold there and experience for yourself some of the strange phenomena that makes this wonderful old building one of all-time favourites!