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Flint Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Fflint; Flynt

In the community of Flint.
In the historic county of Flintshire.
Modern authority of Flintshire.
Preserved county of Clwyd.

OS Map Grid Reference: SJ247733
Latitude 53.25177° Longitude -3.12982°

Flint Castle has been described as a certain Masonry Castle.

There are major building remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.
This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law*.


Flint Castle was commissioned by Edward I in 1277 to dominate the region which had been brought under firm English control following the rise of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd. The masonry fortress and fortified town served as a base for further invasion into north Wales, and was instrumental in the final collapse of organised Welsh resistance to the English Crown when it was attacked on Palm Sunday 1282 by Dafydd ap Gruffudd, drawing his brother Llywelyn into the revolt that was to lead to his death at the end of that year. The castle comprised an almost square inner ward with round angle towers on three corners, and a detatched round tower on the south-eastern corner. Throughout the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries it served as a financial and administrative centre for the county, and was thus retained in good order. It was then garrisoned by royalists in 1642, and served as a base for the harrying of Chester during the English Civil War, during which it passed repeatedly from royalist to parliamentarian control before eventual surrendering to parliament in 1646. Flint Castle was demolished on the orders of parliament following the end of the Civil War, together with a number of other fortifications in Wales, including Rhuddlan Castle (NPRN 92914) and Raglan Castle (NPRN 93387) (Coflein)

Edwardian stone castle of 1277 possibly on site of 1157 castle. Four towers surrounding courtyard, one of which was set further out and separated from the castle by a moat which was probably filled at high tide. The outer ward was protected by another moat. In 1785-1976 a red sandstone building occupying most of the outer bailey was used as a Gaol. The inner ward measures 160 x 145 feet and is c. 0.5 acre in area. South, west and north towers in ruins in record of 1618-24 and thieves tower recorded as not able to keep out the rain (Williams, J G 1988, 5). Castle is built on a low promontary of sandstone rock among the marshes bordering the shores of the Dee. Evaluation trenches to west of outer ward. Site levelled in 20th century. Trace of 19th century chemical works and waste located. To the south the outer wall was located below the car park. Limits of outer ward defined (Hannaford, H R 1988, 71). Excavations were carried out at Flint Castle from 1971 to assist in the conservation of structures and to enhance their display. The inner moat was sectioned against the inner curtain wall and the South-West tower, showing that it originally had a nearly vertical outer face 20ft high. Excavation within the outer ward revealed road surfaces, boundary gullies and a large post hole, but no remains of major buildings. the deep moat between the outer ward and the town was found to be crossed by a submerged rock causeway, at the castle end of which were the remains of a masonry gatehouse which had contained a pivoting bridge. This gatehouse sealed construction-period timbers and part of a turf revetment. Stone supports for a multi-span timber bridge, contemporary with the gatehouse, survived on the rock causeway. A stone-revetted causeway replaced the bridge in the early C17th. The north-east end of the outer curtain wall was examined: it continues towards the Great Tower as a narrower wall revetting the make-up of the outer ward. Part of a construction-period mason's lodge was seen here. A well-preserved ashlar wall revetting the deep channel of the outer moat was revealed nearby. In the town of Flint, part of the Edwardian defences was sectioned (Miles, T J, 1996, 67-151). (Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust HER)

First of castles built by Edward I during his conquest of North Wales; the town of Flint was founded at the same time, as a fortified market town. Unique great tower of the castle was based on the Tour de Constance at Aigues Mortes. Construction known to have begun 1277, but following Edward's treaty with Llewelyn ap Gruffudd, building slowed and not complete by 1282 when the town was burnt, and the castle besieged by Welsh forces. In 1399, Richard II surrendered to Henry IV at the castle. Following sieges in Civil War, castle dismantled on orders of Parliament, and by 1652 was almost buried in its own ruins.
Description: Ruinous. Brown, yellow, and red stone, quarried from site, and across Dee on Wirral. Inner bailey consists of almost square enclosure with sides of approximately 50m (E-W) by 40m (N-S), and corner towers. Medieval curtain wall survives to S, and at NW corner (most of other curtain walling is modern on line of medieval walls). South curtain wall has arched openings to N, with arrow slits and remains of gatehouse (E); 2 similar openings in NW wall, and traces of others. Round towers (approx 11m in diameter) at SW, NW, NE corners quarter-engaged in curtain wall; towers have remains of stairs and arrow slits. Bailey has foundations of buildings, and well. At SE corner is unique great tower, or donjon (approx 20m in diameter). Basement and part of one upper floor survive (but evidence that tower rose higher). Stone vaulted passage has steps down to central chamber of tower; arrow slits, latrine shutes, well to S. One of the 5 radial first floor rooms was chapel, facing E; stoup and springing for barrel vault. To SW of castle is section of revetment wall of ditch (tidal moat) to former outer bailey of Castle. Opposite Castle Street are modern steps on site of gateway (higher masonry to R). Wall parallel to Castle Ditch Street for approx 120 metres (broken towards N), then turns at right angles at SE end for 30 metres. (Listed Building Report)

Begun in 1277, one of the first castles to be built in Wales by King Edward I. Its most impressive feature is a solitary round tower, isolated from the rest of the inner ward. It is sited on a rocky outcrop on the estuary of the river Dee which may have been the site of an earlier castle. Consists of an almost square inner ward, c.52m by 57m, with round angle towers except on the SE, where there is a detached round tower, c.22m in diameter. On the SW is an outer, much ruined, sub-rectangular enclosure, c.100m NW-SE by 68m. The largest tower, which was never finished, overlooks the small gate. Unlike most castles little evidence has been found for domestic buildings within the wards. The castle was surrounded by a deep moat and outer defences of timber were still being maintained in 1337.
"In the long term, the great tower of Flint was more admired (and therefore more imitated) than any other building begun by Edward I. It is a sad irony, therefore, that it remains amongst both scholars and visitors the least loved of all the royal castles." (Goodall, 2009, p. 162). Much of the glory of the great tower of Flint would have been in the 'carola lignee nobili et pulchra' (noble and beautiful timber gallery) built by Master Henry de Rihull (Turner, 2009, p. 50). The loss of this, and the complexity of the tower's design, make it a difficult building to understand and appreciate, particularly if one looks at castles as primarily military buildings. It may be the limited view of earlier castellologists have lead to them basically ignoring this important building because it did not fit into that view.
It is suggested that the Donjon Tower is modelled on La Tour Constance at Aigues Mortes in Provence France, where Edward I spent several months in 1270 prior to going on Crusade. That tower, probably dating from the 1260s, has the same isolation from the town defences, connected only by a drawbridge and is of the same dimensions. Perfect (2012) points out that some mason marks in both towers are the same. However, the top of that tower has been much modified for artillery in the C16 so it does not inform us now of 'the noble and beautiful' upper-works of the Donjon Tower.
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This record last updated 28/06/2017 18:13:03