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Holt Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Chastellion; Castrum Leonis; Castle Lions

In the community of Holt.
In the historic county of Denbighshire.
Modern authority of Wrexham.
Preserved county of Clwyd.

OS Map Grid Reference: SJ41135377
Latitude 53.07792° Longitude -2.88022°

Holt Castle has been described as a certain Masonry Castle.

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.
This is a Grade 2* listed building protected by law*.


Holt Castle was built between 1282-1311 and demolished between 1675-83. The surviving remains include an irregular pentagon of walls, about 20-24m across set upon and against a boss of natural rock. The castle is reached by a causeway from the north, and is raised about 10m proud the expansive floor of a quarry that has subsumed any traces of ditches, moats or ourworks. Old prints and plans show that the present remains represent a courtyard around which were ranges of apartments within a towered curtain. There are associated fishponds about 600m to west. (Coflein)

The remains of the present structure date back to the second Edwardian campaign of 1282-3, however it is probable that the site had been of strategic importance for many centuries before. Bronze Age remains have been found on the site. The Edwardian lordship castle was built by the Earl of Surrey, John de Warenne. When John Noren visited the site in 1620 he described it as 'nowe in great decay'. It is however clear from his drawings that it was a single ward castle, planned as a regular pentagon, with buildings ranged against each curtain wall and a tower at each angle. Four towers were round, with watch turrets and battered plinths while at opposing ends there were square towers, one of which was a gatehouse barbican. The castle changed hands at least twice during the Civil War. The castle was demolished between 1675 and 1683 to provide building material for Sir Thomas Grosvenor's Eaton Hall.
The remains stand upon an artificially-shaped boss of red sandstone upon and around which the castle was originally constructed. Sandstone blockwork survives, the S side being the best preserved with a doorway and steps leading into the interior. (Listed Building Report)

Holt Castle, known as Chastellion or Castrum Leonis from the lion sculpture above its gateway, was built some time between 1282 and 1311 by John de Warren, who was granted the area after Edward I's final defeat of the Welsh. The King's architect may have been responsible for the design of the castle. An irregular pentagon of walls, c.20-24m across, set upon and against a boss of natural rock, reached by a causeway from the N, and raised c.10m proud the expansive floor of a quarry that has subsumed any traces of ditches, moats or ourworks. It was probably intended to guard the river crossing. The visible remains are difficult to interpret since almost all the stonework was removed between 1675 and 1683 for the construction of Eaton Hall. A survey of 1562 shows all the towers as round with a rectangular external annexe containing the chapel running full height of the south-eastern tower opposite the gate as square or rectangular. (Butler 1987)

Has undergone a re-interpreation based on documentary and other evidence found since Lawrence Butler's comprehensive historic survey of 1987. The Castle Studies Trust is looking at the various options to best show the excellent work of Chris Jones-Jenkins and Rick Turner in its entirety and the basis for conclusions. See Castle Studies Trust.
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

Data >
Coflein   County HER   Scheduling   Listing    
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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This record last updated 13/07/2017 07:15:10