This historic market town lies beside the river
which gives its name. The Romans established a legionary fort (Burrium)
here in 55 AD before moving downstream to Caerleon (Isca) in 75 AD. The Normans settled in the area soon after the Conquest and by the
12th Century had turned the town into a stronghold with a hilltop
castle, Benedictine Priory and a medieval street plan that largely
survives to this day.
As a border outpost, the town was inevitably caught up in disputes
between the native Welsh and the English. Much of the town was
destroyed during the Glyndwr Rebellion in 1402 but the forces of
Owain Glyndwr were defeated just north of the castle in 1405. The
600th anniversary of that battle was commemorated by a colourful
pageant at the castle in July 2005.
Residents dressed up for "Victorian Day" outside the Usk
Rural Life Museum.
Today the town is a peaceful haven which services the needs of the
surrounding countryside and hosts the many who come to the town to
admire its floral displays in the summer and to see the castle,
Rural Life Museum and 12th Century church. It remains a popular
centre for green tourism, for those interested in fishing the River
Usk for trout and salmon and for the more energetic, walking the
long distance Usk Valley Way or exploring the surrounding
countryside on bikes or on horseback.