Ancient Monuments

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Rhuddlan Castle

A Scheduled Monument in Rhuddlan, Denbighshire (Sir Ddinbych)

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Latitude: 53.2891 / 53°17'20"N

Longitude: -3.465 / 3°27'54"W

OS Eastings: 302437

OS Northings: 377910

OS Grid: SJ024779

Mapcode National: GBR 4Z7D.MN

Mapcode Global: WH659.RL5B

Entry Name: Rhuddlan Castle

Scheduled Date:

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 194

Cadw Legacy ID: FL004

Schedule Class: Defence

Category: Castle

Period: Medieval

County: Denbighshire (Sir Ddinbych)

Community: Rhuddlan

Built-Up Area: Rhuddlan

Traditional County: Flintshire


This monument comprises the remains of a medieval castle built by King Edward I. Begun in 1277, Rhuddlan Castle was sited to the north of an earlier Norman motte and bailey castle. For many years Rhuddlan was the lowest crossing point and highest point of navigation on the river Clwyd; this became particularly important between the 10th and 13th centuries. It could control traffic running both along and across the northern part of the Vale of Clwyd, and could be supplied by water.

The castle is concentric in design, consisting of a very strongly defended inner ward, completely surrounded by a slighter outer ward. On the south-west, this fronts the river, but elsewhere, it overlooks an artificial moat, also walled on the outer side, which was dry apart from a short section south of the castle used as a dock. Four gates (Town Gate, Friary Gate, Dock Gate and River Gate) – led into the outer ward – two from the river and two from the town.

All four curtains are almost intact and survive to the height of the wall-walks with only the battlemented parapets lacking. Built to a thickness of 2.7m, the curtain walls widen to 3.3m where they join the towers to accommodate latrines at the ground and intermediate stages. Narrow flights of steps lead to the wall-walk from the top of the wide circular staircase with which each of the towers is provided.

The diamond-shaped inner ward has twin-towered gatehouses at the eastern and western angles, with single towers projecting from the northern and southern angles. All the towers, which rise a stage higher than the curtains, were exactly similar in plan, with four rooms in each, though the south tower also has a basement. The rooms in the towers would have accommodated officials and members of the royal households, and no doubt one of the gatehouses contained the residence of the constable. Little trace remains of the structures that originally stood in the outer ward. Most were probably timber framed and included the granary, the great and little stables, the forge, the treasury, a workshop for the Queen’s goldsmith and, no doubt ancillary buildings necessary to the life of any great medieval establishment.

There are three towers, namely: Gillot’s Tower; South Tower and North Tower. Gillot’s Tower is probably named after Gillot de Chalons, a mason who was working at Conwy in 1286 and had been previously employed at Rhuddlan. Four storeys high and projecting from the southern corner of the outer ward, the original entrance was on the third storey. The two windows in this room are almost the only ones in the building which retain their dressed stonework intact. The arrangement of rooms in the South Tower repeats the pattern seen in the gatehouse towers, with the addition of a basement. In the North Tower the ground-floor room is partly above and partly below courtyard level. It was entered by steps leading directly from the courtyard rather than by a trapdoor.

The principal apartments of the castle stood within the enclosure of the inner ward and included the king’s hall and chamber, the queen’s hall and chamber, the kitchens and the chapel. There is a well some 15m deep near the centre of the courtyard.

Rhuddlan saw action in 1400 at the beginning of the Welsh rebellion led by Owain Glyn Dŵr, but although the town was ravaged by the rebels, the castle was not taken. During the Civil War (1642-48) Rhuddlan was garrisoned for the king and held out until July 1646 when it was forced to surrender to Major-General Thomas Mytton, the parliamentarians’ commander-in-chief in north Wales. Thereafter the House of Commons voted that the castle should be made untenable, and it was subsequently demolished. The castle’s present condition of ruin dates principally from this year.

This monument is of national importance for its potential to enhance our knowledge of medieval social, domestic and political life and warfare. The scheduled area comprises the remains described and an area around them within which related evidence may be expected to survive.

Source: Cadw

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