Rhuddlan Castle

Has been described as a Certain Masonry Castle

There are major building remains

NameRhuddlan Castle
Alternative NamesRothelan; Ruthlan; Rughlan; Rhudland
Historic CountryFlintshire
Modern AuthorityDenbighshire
1974 AuthorityClwyd
CommunityRhuddlan

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)

Gatehouse Comments

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.

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law

Historic Wales CADW listed database record number
The National Monument Record (Coflein) number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSJ024779
Latitude53.2891616821289
Longitude-3.4646201133728
Eastings302462
Northings377909
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Photograph by Andrew Herrett. All rights reserved
Photograph by Andrew Herrett. All rights reserved
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Books

  • Goodall, John, 2011, The English Castle 1066-1650 (Yale University Press) p. 214-6
  • Kenyon, John, 2010, The Medieval Castles of Wales (University of Wales Press) p. 49-51
  • Ashbee, J., 2009, 'The King's Accommodation at his Castles' in Willams, D. and Kenyon, J. (eds), The Impact of the Edwardian Castles in Wales (Oxbow) p. 72-84
  • Purton, P.F., 2009, A History of the Late Medieval Siege: 1200-1500 (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press) p. 84
  • Morgan, Gerald, 2008, Castles in Wales: A Handbook (Talybont: Y Lolfa Cyf.) p. 128-130
  • Gravett, Christopher, 2007, The Castles of Edward I in Wales 1277-1307 (Osprey Fortress series 64)
  • Pettifer, Adrian, 2000, Welsh Castles, A Guide by Counties (Boydell Press) p. 76-9
  • Reid, Alan, 1998, Castles of Wales (John Jones Publishing) p. 126-9
  • Salter, Mike, 1997, The Castles of North Wales (Malvern) p. 77-80
  • Burnham, H., 1995, A Guide to Ancient and Historic Wales: Clwyd and Powys (Cadw, London)
  • Quinnell, H. and Blockley, M.R., 1994, Excavations at Rhuddlan, Clwyd 1969-73: Mesolithic to Medieval (London: CBA Research Report 95) p. 212-3, 219-20 online copy
  • Brown, R.Allen, 1989, Castles from the Air (Cambridge University Press) p. 193-6
  • Taylor, A.J., 1986, The Welsh Castles of Edward I (Hambledon Press) p. 26-35
  • Hubbard, E., 1986, The Buildings of Wales: Clwyd (Yale University Press) p. 423-5
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 154
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 377
  • Miles, H., 1977, ‘Rhuddlan’, in P J Davey (ed), Medieval Pottery from Excavations in the North West (Institute of Extension Studies (Liverpool)) p. 42-7
  • Colvin, H.M., Brown, R.Allen and Taylor, A.J., 1963, The history of the King's Works, Vol. 1: the Middle Ages (London) p. 318-27
  • Neaverson, E., 1947, Mediaeval Castles in North Wales: A study of Sites, Water Supply, and Building Stones (London) p. 42-3
  • Lowe, W.Bezant, 1927, The Heart of North Wales (Llanfairfechan) Vol. 2 p. 181-7
  • RCAHMW, 1912, An inventory of the Ancient Monuments of Flintshire (HMSO) p. 80-2 no. 223 online copy
  • Timbs, J. and Gunn, A., 1872, Abbeys, Castles and Ancient Halls of England and Wales Vol. 3 (London) p. 412-4 online copy
  • Lewis, Samual, 1849, A Topographical Dictionary of Wales online copy
  • Grose, Francis, 1785, The Antiquities of England and Wales (London) Vol. 7 p. 32-35 online copy
  • Buck, Samuel and Nathenial, 1774, Buck’s Antiquities (London) Vol. 2 p. 393

Antiquarian

Journals

  • John Kenyon, Chris Jones-Jenkins and Neil Guy, 2015-16, 'The Castle Studies Group Conference 'Castles of North-East Wales' Castle Studies Group Journal Vol. 29 p. 42-57
  • Coldstream, N., 2003 'Architects, Advisers and Design at Edward I’s Castles in Wales' Architectural History Vol. 46 p. 19-36
  • Messham, J.E., 1999, 'Henry Conewey, Knight. Constable of the Castle of Rhuddlan 1390-1407' Flintshire Historical Society Journal Vol. 35 p. 11-56 online copy
  • Kenyon, John R., 1996, 'Fluctuating Frontiers: Normanno-Welsh Castle Warfare c. 1075 to 1240' Château Gaillard Vol. 17 p. 119-126
  • Avent, Richard, 1981, ‘Rhuddlan Castle’, The 128th Annual Meeting in Chester, 1981, CAA p. 10
  • Hogg, A.H.A. and King, D.J.C., 1967, 'Masonry castles in Wales and the Marches: a list' Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 116 p. 71-132
  • Edwards, J. Goronwy, 1944, 'Edward I's Castle-Building in Wales' Proceedings of the British Academy Vol. 32 p. 32-7, 69
  • 1912, Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 67 p. 117-21
  • Hope, W.H.St J., 1903, 'English Fortresses and Castles of the Tenth and Eleventh Centuries' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 60 p. 86 online copy
  • 1887, Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 42 p. 348-9 online copy
  • Maxwell, 1843, Trans. Cymmrodorion_Vol. 2.4 p. 331-52

Guide Books

  • Taylor, A.J., 2004, Rhuddlan Castle (Cardiff: CADW) (abridged version of Taylor's 1987 text but with more illustrations)
  • Williams. H., 1987, Rhuddlan Castle (Cardiff: CADW)
  • Taylor, A.J., 1987 (4th rev edn), Rhuddlan Castle (Cardiff: CADW)
  • Taylor, A.J., 1982 (3edn), Rhuddlan Castle/ Castell Rhuddlan, Clwyd (Cardiff: CADW)
  • Taylor, A.J., 1956 (2edn), Rhuddlan Castle, Flintshire (HMSO)
  • Taylor, A.J., 1949, Rhuddlan Castle, Flintshire (HMSO)
  • Taylor, A.J., 1949, Rhuddlan Castle Official Guide (Flint DC)

Primary Sources

  • Christie, R.C. (ed), 1887, Annales Cestrienses: Chronicle of the Abbey of S. Werburg, at Chester p. 109 online copy
  • Hog, T. (ed), 1845, F. Nicholai Triveti de ordine frat. praedicatorum Annales sex regum Angliae, qui a comitibus andegavensibus originem traxerunt (English Historical Society) p. 302 online copy
  • Luard, H.R. (ed), 1890, Flores Historiarum (Rolls Series 95) Vol. 3 p. 56 online copy
  • Rickard, John, 2002, The Castle Community. The Personnel of English and Welsh Castles, 1272-1422 (Boydell Press) (lists sources for 1272-1422) p. 200-2
  • SC12/22/96 (Survey of 11 Edward III) The National Archives reference
  • SP14/49/82 (Survey of 1609) The National Archives reference

Other

  • Ryder, Charles, 2011, The spiral stair or vice: Its origins, role and meaning in medieval stone castles (PhD Thesis University of Liverpool) p. 196-200 Download via