Rhuddlan Castle

huddlan Castle's construction was ordered by Edward I. The new castle at Rhuddlan replaced the existing motte and bailey castle that had been built following the Norman Conquest. The building work was begun in 1277 and the castle was built at an important crossing at the mouth of the river Clwyd. Edward had the river straightened and deepened to allow his ships access right up to the castle walls. This was important as it meant the castle could be resupplied by sea which was controlled by the English. The castle was designed by Edward's chief castle builder, James St. George who was responsible for many of the Welsh castles built during this time. Even if it is not instantly obvoius from the remains, Rhuddlan is a concentric type of castle. This means that the castle had not just one wall, but a series of walls thus making an assault on the castle much more difficult. The inner section of the castle consists of a diamond shaped enclosure with six circular towers. There are two entrances to the enclosure, each protected by twin towers. Much of the outer curtain wall has now disappeared but the inner ward's walls are mostly complete. The buildings that would have existed inside the inner ward can no longer be seen.

During the English Civil War the castle was held by forces loyal to King Charles I but surrendered in 1646 to Parliamentarian forces led by Major-General Mytton. The castle was then dismantled by order of Parliament in 1648.


Rhuddlan Castle Key Facts
CountyDenbighshire (4 castles)
CategoriesMotte & Bailey / Stone / Concentric
OwnershipRoyal and Baronial castle
RemainsNot complete but much survives
Access to siteOnly open at certain times
TimeRef Rating


YearMonthEvent
1062 Dec  Harold, earl Wessex, attacked Rhuddlan
 Harold led an attack on the stronghold of Gruffydd ap Llywelyn at Rhuddlan in north Wales. The attack was a success but the Welsh Prince managed to escape.[1] 
1073   Motte and Bailey Castle at Rhuddlan
 By 1073 a motte and bailey castle had been built on the site of the earlier Welsh fort. This was done by Robert of Rhuddlan, a deputy of the Earl of Chester. [2] 
1277 Aug  Reconstruction of Rhuddlan Castle begun
 Leaving work on Flint Castle underway Edward I moved on up the coast to Rhuddlan where he found the remains of an old Norman Motte and Bailey castle overlooking an important crossing point of the river Clywd. A new castle was ordered and work began to create both the castle and a new town alongside.

Episode: Edward I and Wales  
 Nov 10  Edward defeats Llywelyn
 Llywelyn was cut off from supplies and an escape route so had to accept defeat. Edward demanded payment of £50,000 and all of Llywelyn's territories. Llywelyn was left only with the Isle of Anglesey which he had to pay rent of £1,000 a year. Edward also demanded that Anglesey should be handed in the case that Llywelyn died without a male heir. Llywelyn swore fealty to Edward at Rhuddlan on November 10th and again at a ceremony at Westminster Abbey on Christmas Day.

Episode: Edward I and Wales  
1282 Aug  Feudal levy gather at Rhuddlan
 King Edward had called for the feudal army to gather at Rhuddlan in August to put down the Welsh revolt. Edward and Eleanor's daughter Elizabeth was born at Rhuddlan at this time.[3]

Episode: Edward I and Wales  
1284 Mar  Statute of Wales/Rhuddlan
 After the second Welsh rebellion Edward decided to bring Wales under direct rule. The Statute of Rhuddlan brought English laws to Wales. Edward appointed sheriffs and bailiffs for the northern territories while the southern areas were left under the control of the Marcher Lords.

Episode: Edward I and Wales  

Motte and Bailey Castles

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The Norman Conquerors built their castles in locations where they could keep control of the local populations of Saxons or at important locations such as river crossings or on key roads. Many motte and bailey castles were built on the border with Wales to try and keep the Welsh at bay. The advantage of this type of castle was that it was quick to construct. Making a fortification from wood was much easier than making one of stone.

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