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Rhuddlan Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Rothelan; Ruthlan; Rughlan; Rhudland

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

OS Map Grid Reference: SJ02467790
Latitude 53.28916° Longitude -3.46462°

Rhuddlan 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*.


Substantial remains of a masonry castle established with borough in 1277, replacing earlier castle site at Twt Hill; castle demolished 1648. The castle is based on a quadrilateral, towered inner court, c.43m square, within a roughly concentric outer enclosure, the whole bounded by a broad stone-revetted moat, except where it rests on the river bank on the SW. Associated with town defences to the NW and possible Edwardian defences to the SE. (Coflein)

Begun in 1277, this was the second of King Edward I's great Welsh fortifications. A protected river dock forms one side of the defences of this concentrically planned castle, dominated by a distinctive diamond-shaped inner ward. The castle was constructed between 1277-82 and at the same time the river was straightened and dredged to improve navigation. The castle plan is concentric based on a quadrilateral, towered inner court, c.43m square, with twin-tower gatehouses on opposite corners, within a roughly concentric outer enclosure, the whole bounded by a broad stone-revetted moat, except where it rests on the river bank on the SW. The outer ward, which is flanked by small square towers and turrets, is octagonal in shape except where it borders the river. Here it extends down the slope to enclose a watergate and dock for ships. The walls of the outer ward have been destroyed but the moat can still be traced on the side away from the river. (Derived from Jeff Spencer and Coflein)

Building of the castle at Rhuddlan followed the capture of the borough (originally founded c1073) by Edward I in 1277. Both the town and its existing castle were re-sited, and newly planned as an integral development. Work on the castle began in 1277, and continued until the mid 1280's, with alterations carried out in the early C14. The chief master mason was James of Saint George, and some early C14 work was carried out by Richard of Chester. The castle surrendered to Parliament in 1646, and was slighted in 1648.
Concentric plan with inner and outer wards. The outer ward is enclosed by a wide dry moat, and is protected to the S by a river wall and tower. The moat was originally crossed at two points - at the Town Gate (the present entrance from Castle Street), and at the SE at the Priory Gate (converted into a turret in 1300). The sides of the moat were revetted in stone, most of which survives. The outer curtain wall is fragmentary, but remains of turrets containing steps leading down to former sallyports in the moat survive. The ward slopes down to the river to the SW, and at its furthest point is the square, 4-storeyed Gillot's Tower, with a postern alongside it. The inner ward is of lozenge plan, and has a single circular tower at the N and S corners, and double-towered gatehouses at the E and W angles. Curtain walls survive to the level of the wall walks between the towers, and have embrasured slits at ground level. The parapets have largely disappeared, but a fragment of battlement survives in the NE wall, and the SW and SE walls retain traces of central corbelled turrets. The towers were 4 storeyed, and the S tower, and the W gatehouse towers survive almost to their full height. E gatehouse has portcullis grooves and gate chases. The original system of loopholes survives in its N guardroom, interrupted to the S by the insertion of a fireplace at the beginning of the C14. Inside the ward, the domestic buildings were of timber, and have all been lost. (Listed Building Report)

Some of the expense of building Rhuddlan lay in the turning of the Afon Clwyd in to a channel navigable by sea going vessels. It remains an open question as to the reason for building the Edwardian castle and town next to the Norman Castle and town rather than, the more usual practice of rebuilding the exisiting sites. Edward and his architects were experimenting in many ways in Wales, Rhuddlan may have been intended as a Regional capital although this intent was not carried through after Caernarfon became the caput of North Wales.
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

Data >
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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This record last updated 02/07/2017 08:12:38