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Rhuddlan Castle :

In the year 1272 AD the English King Henry III was succeeded by his son King Edward I. This did not Rhuddlan Castlebode 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 of Wales.

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 castle (Twthill).
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
Opening times

1 April.07 - 30 Sept .07: 10.00 a.m. - 17.00 p.m 
1.Oct. 07 - 20. March 08: Closed 


Please --- click on the pictures --- below for more scenes of Rhuddlan Castle and the town of Rhuddlan.

Rhuddlan High Street looking toward the west and the foothills of Snowdonia Rhuddlan Parliament Building
Rhuddlan High Street  
Rhuddlan Parliament Building
Stone plaque commemorating the Statute of Rhuddlan St Mary's Church Rhuddlan
Stone plaque commemorating the Statute of Rhuddlan  
St Mary's Church, Rhuddlan

© All pictures copyright Bernard Wellings


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