In the year 1272 AD the English King Henry III was succeeded by his
son King Edward I. This did not bode
well for the principality of Wales as Edward was determined to impose
his authority on the Welsh. Llywelyn II, Prince
of Wales, (Llywelyn ap Gruffydd), had other ideas and refused to
pay homage to the English King.
War was declared in 1276 with the first campaigns centred on the
Severn and the Dee valleys. Llywelyn was forced to retreat to the river
Conwy and formally submitted to the king
at Rhuddlan. Edward seized the opportunity to consolidate his conquests
by building the first of his iron ring of castles. Thus were built
the castles of Flint and Rhuddlan and they were to be the spring
boards for King Edward's later drive into Gwynedd and the very heart-lands
The impressive castle at Rhuddlan was built between the years of 1277
and 1282 on a site just northwest of an existing Norman motte and bailey
The building work was originally under the control of a Master
Bertram but later came under the control of Master James of St George,
renowned for his later work on Edward's castles at Beaumaris, Harlech,
Caernarfon, and Conwy.
Impressive as the Castle is, I find Edward's determination to conquer
all of Britain at any cost even more so. The castle
was to be built at Rhuddlan, but the river Clwyd was not navigable for
the three miles from the Irish Sea to Rhuddlan and thus did not conform
to Edward's strategic plans to be able to reinforce all his fortresses
by sea. No problem! Well not to a mediaeval monarch. Edward assembled
1800 ditchers from the Fenlands of England and by straightening and dredging
they canalized the River Clwyd from the Irish Sea to Rhuddlan Castle.
Edward established a borough to the north of the castle and the town
of Rhuddlan echoes much of the original borough to this day.
Having established his fortresses in North Wales, at Rhuddlan and Flint,
King Edward was better able to respond to the next Welsh revolt and when
it came in 1282 he attacked from his base at Rhuddlan Castle and struck
into the heart of Gwynedd.
Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, Llywelyn the Last, was killed at Builth Wells and
another Welsh revolt foundered on the English sword.
But this was not the end of the military history of Rhuddlan Castle
as Rhuddlan came under attack in the Welsh rising of 1294,
again in the Owain
Glyndwr rebellion of 1400, and finally in the Civil
War. The castle defences proved effective against
the earlier mediaeval forces of the Glyndwr revolt but the best works
of Master James of St George were unable to withstand the barrage of
attacks aimed at Rhuddlan by the parliamentarian forces in the 17th Century,
with Rhuddlan being forced to capitulate in 1646.
Two years later Rhuddlan
Castle was partially demolished to prevent its further use.
It is now in the care of Cadw, the official guardian of the built heritage
of Wales and stands proudly on the banks of the River Clwyd as testimony
to both the skills of the mediaeval castle builders and to the tenacity
of the Welsh in their resistance to English rule.
Directions: [ Map
of Rhuddlan Castle location ]
Location : Rhuddlan, Denbighshire, North Wales
Facilities (2007) :
Parking, toilets, baby changing facilities, on-site gift shop.
Adult - £2.90, concession - £2.50, family - £8.30
1 April.07 - 30 Sept .07: 10.00 a.m. - 17.00 p.m
1.Oct. 07 - 20. March 08: Closed