The comprehensive gazetteer and bibliography of the medieval castles, fortifications and palaces of England, Wales, the Islands.
The listings
Other Info
Print Page 
Next Record 
Previous Record 
Back to list 

Ruthin Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Castell Rhuthun; Castell Coch yn Gwern-for

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

OS Map Grid Reference: SJ12325802
Latitude 53.11225° Longitude -3.31170°

Ruthin 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 1 listed building protected by law*.


A substantial masonry castle constructed from 1277, presently overlain by a hotel, formerly a private mansion, and incorporated into C19 garden landscaping. The castle consisted of a strong, roughly pentagonal, moated court, c.94m NE-SW by 60m, defined by curtain walls and rounded mural towers, with a twin-towered gate facing SE, away from the unwalled med. town, with a second, subsidiary, similarly defined court, c.52mNE-SW by 60m, adjoining on the SW. Built on a red sandstone ridge during Edward I's campaigns against the Welsh. It has suffered much rebuilding and is now a hotel, however several fairly substantial pieces of C13 work remain, in ruined state, in the hotel grounds. (Coflein)

Started in 1277 by Edward I, as part of a Royal building programme of border castles, and contemporary with those at Flint and Rhuddlan. Ruthin became a Marcher Lordship in 1282 under Reginald de Grey. It was attacked in 1400 during the uprising by Owain Glyndwr. The castle was ruined during the Civil War, some of the stone re-used elsewhere in the town; it was purchased by Sir Richard Myddelton in the C17. A house, now Ruthin Castle Hotel, was built over much of the lower bailey from 1826. The upper bailey is now gardens, some of the ruins embellished in gothic style in the C19.
Built along the crest of a hill on a SW-NE axis, in the form of an elongated pentagon with pointed E end, and surrounded by a moat. It has an upper bailey to the NE and a lower bailey to the SW. The castle is constructed of substantial blocks of coursed red and grey sandstone. It consists of the following main elements: a substantial curtain wall, battered towards the base and particularly high on the NW (down-hill) side; large round towers to the angles of each bailey; a gatehouse to E with twin D-shaped towers; postern gate to NW curtain wall, in N corner of lower bailey. Internally, the remains of the hall survive to the upper bailey. The gatehouse to the E consists of 2 projecting D-shaped towers, that to the E surviving to 1 storey, with a pointed-arched doorway to the straight rear wall. The W tower survives up to 2 storeys high, with 2 denuded Tudor-ached openings to the front. Its E side, and the central entrance have been gothicised: The gateway has a wide Tudor arch of stone voussoirs, containing double cast iron gates with scrollwork, flanked by miniature turrets with pierced quatrefoil decoration, over which are crenellated parapets. The flanking walls step down to L and R, behind which a walkway leads over the gateway, reached by stone steps. At right-angles to L, the E wall of the adjoining tower contains a doorcase with 2 octagonal shafts with capitals, supporting a stone cornice, inside which is an arched boarded door; this is flanked by pointed-arched windows, that to R with a diamond grille, boarded behind. The internal side of this wall forms part of a staggered passageway with gothic detail, including decorative cobbled flooring, which leads from the hotel to the gateway steps. Underneath the medieval towers are a series of chambers, probably including prison cells: these are reached by stone staircases, the vaulted roofs supported by chamfered Tudor-arched transverse ribs. Two chambers survive at ground level on the N side of the entrance towers. The curtain wall running W from the gatehouse joins Ruthin Castle Hotel, its face surviving to the lower parts. It has a small doorway, with Tudor-arched head of stone voussoirs, now infilled. To the NE of the gatehouse, a narrow pointed doorway set at an angle leads to a further section of curtain wall. The NE tower is located at the pointed end of the upper bailey, and survives to a low level; a narrow pointed-arched doorway leads into it. Running towards the W, the curtain wall is better preserved and contains angled slits, including red sandstone blocks with angled oval openings. Turning towards the SW, the high curtain wall has 3 round towers along its length. The NE tower survives about 1m above ground level and contains the base of a winding staircase. The hall is located between the NE and central towers, a large rectangular building with high wall to NW, and low wall to SE. The end walls are not well-preserved, but there is a narrow Tudor-arched doorway to N corner. Between the NW wall and curtain wall was a narrow corridor, possibly containing service areas. It has tall round-arched doorways with red sandstone dressings to each end, and pointed-arched window openings to the curtain wall. However, the NW wall of the hall was gothicised, with crenellated parapets and stepped buttresses to the inner (hall) side. The corridor appears to have been re-used as a garden structure, possibly a hot-house. It had 2 fireplaces with stone lintels to the inner wall, now infilled with brick, recessed arches to both sides, and evidence for a lean-to roof. To the SW, the wall of the central tower stands c1.2m high and has recesses for 4 window openings. Adjacent to this is a probable wheel-pit, with leat in N corner which could have provided water for an overshot wheel. This structure could have been associated with the castle entrance, a mill within the castle, or a C19 garden feature. Beyond the central tower is the lower bailey, the ground level falling sharply, and with spiral and straight stairs leading down. At the bottom, the curtain wall contains a low postern gate (visible from outside), and a gateway to its SW, a wide archway of stone voussoirs, with grooves for a portcullis; there is evidence for a tower structure above this. The curtain wall was partly damaged during the Civil War. The SW tower was rebuilt in red sandstone in the mid C19, and forms part of the formal gardens of Ruthin Castle Hotel. A wall runs SE from the tower and then terminates. (Listed Building Report)
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

Data >
Coflein   County HER   Scheduling   Listing    
Maps >
Streetmap   NLS maps   Where's the path   Old-Maps      
Data/Maps > 
Magic   Historic Wales   V. O. B.   Geology   LIDAR  
Air Photos > 
Bing Maps   Google Maps   Getmapping   ZoomEarth      
Photos >
CastleFacts   Geograph   Flickr   Panoramio      

Sources of information, references and further reading
Most of the sites or buildings recorded in this web site are NOT open to the public and permission to visit a site must always be sought from the landowner or tenant.
It is an offence to disturb a Scheduled Monument without consent. It is a destruction of everyone's heritage to remove archaeological evidence from ANY site without proper recording and reporting.
Don't use metal detectors on historic sites without authorisation.
The information on this web page may be derived from information compiled by and/or copyright of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historic Monuments of Wales, the four welsh archaeological trusts and other individuals and organisations. It may also contain Designated Historic Asset Descriptive Information from The Welsh Historic Environment Service (Cadw), licensed under the Open Government Licence. All the sources given should be consulted to identify the original copyright holder and permission obtained from them before use of the information on this site for commercial purposes.
The author and compiler of Gatehouse does not receive any income from the site and funds it himself. The information within this site is provided freely for educational purposes only.
The bibliography owes much to various bibliographies produced by John Kenyon for the Council for British Archaeology, the Castle Studies Group and others.
Suggestions for finding online and/or hard copies of bibliographical sources can be seen at this link.
Minor archaeological investigations, such as watching brief reports, and some other 'grey' literature is most likely to be held by H.E.R.s but is often poorly referenced and is unlikely to be recorded here, or elsewhere, but some suggestions can be found here.
The possible site or monument is represented on maps as a point location. This is a guide only. It should be noted that OS grid references defines an area, not a point location. In practice this means the actual center of the site or monument may often, but not always, be to the North East of the point shown.
Locations derived from OS grid references and from latitude longitiude may differ by a small distance.
Further information on mapping and location can be seen at this link.
Lidar coverage in the UK is not complete. The button above will give an idea of the area of coverage. Higher resolution lidar images in both DSM and DTM form may be available from Lle A geo-Portal for Wales (click the preview tag to bring up a map and then select format byclicking on the small blue diamond in the top right corner of the map.)
Please help to make this as useful a resource as possible by contacting Gatehouse if you see errors, can add information or have suggestions for improvements in functality and design.
Help is acknowledged.
*The listed building may not be the actual medieval building, but a building on the site of, or incorporating fragments of the described site.

This record last updated 20/04/2017 04:06:19