The earthwork remains of a late eleventh/early twelfth century fortification. Much has been lost to landscaping and none of the internal buildings are visible even as trace earthworks. However, the motte still stands to a good height.
NO OFFICIAL SITE
Notes: Located off the B5444 in Mold. The remains of the castle are now a public park called Bailey Hill. Access to the site is via the entrance next to the war memorial.
Inner Bailey. The site of the inner bailey is now dominated by a bowling green.
Gorsedd Circle. Not an ancient structure - the Gorsedd Circle was actually constructed in 1923 when Mold hosted the National Eisteddfod of Wales.
Mold Castle Layout. The castle had two baileys (note some authors have interpreted the outer bailey as a defensive outwork). The main access seems to have been on the west directly into the Inner Bailey.
Mold Castle was an motte-and-bailey fortification established in the late eleventh/early twelfth century by the Norman de Montalt family. The site changed hands multiple times over the next hundred years as power fluctuated between the Welsh and the Norman-English. Thereafter it saw no action until the Civil War when it was briefly taken by Parliament.
HISTORY OF MOLD CASTLE
Mold Castle was constructed on a natural glacial mound and consisted of two baileys plus a motte. All had earth and timber defences with no evidence that stone was ever used. Possibly built upon an existing earthwork, perhaps a hillfort, Mold Castle may have been constructed as early as the late eleventh century as Norman settlers sought to carve out territory for themselves in the borderlands. Alternatively it could have been raised in the first half of the twelfth century as the first recorded reference dates to 1140 at which time it was owned by Robert de Montalt. His family acquired their name from the site when 'mont haut', meaning high hill, became Montalt. This would become further corrupted over the years into Mold.
As with many border castles, Mold changed hands on multiple occasions during the turbulent years of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. With King Stephen of England distracted by the Anarchy, the native Welsh expanded their power and territory at the expense of the Marcher Lords. In 1146 Mold was captured by Owain ap Gruffudd, King of Gwynedd who would go on to capture Rhuddlan in 1150. Even after the accession of Henry II in 1154, Owain would see further success. He defeated the new King at the Battle of Ewloe (also known as the Battle of Colehill) in Summer 1157. Henry II invaded again in 1165 in another largely unsuccessful campaign - however Mold Castle was recaptured at this time.
Mold remained in English hands until 1201 when it was recaptured by Llywelyn ap Iorwerth (Llywelyn the Great). Like Owain, he was a ruler of Gwynedd and by the early thirteenth century had established himself as the preeminent Welsh Prince. But his increasing power brought him into conflict with King John resulting in the English monarch sweeping his armies through Wales. Like many of John's campaigns though, it went awry ultimately uniting the Welsh princes under Llywelyn. Together the Welsh resisted the attacks of John who soon had distracting domestic issues of his own. Llywelyn was able to retain his newly captured prize of Mold and used it to secure control of north east Wales.
The castle remained in Welsh control until the 1230s when it was returned, peacefully, to the de Montalt family. However it was recaptured by Dafydd ap Llywelyn in 1245 and would remain in their hands for the next few decades. Only following Edward I's invasion of eastern Wales in 1277, during the First War of Welsh Independence, did the site come permanently under English control.
The male line of the Montalt family died out in 1329 and this saw the castle's prominence significantly reduce. It passed into the hands of the Mostyn family who held lands elsewhere making Mold, with its out-dated timber construction, largely superfluous. The last recorded use of the castle was noted in the fifteenth century.
By the time of the Civil War in the mid-seventeenth century, only abandoned earthworks remained of Mold Castle. Nevertheless in November 1643 Parliamentary forces under Sir Thomas Middleton occupied the town and the castle remains before pressing on towards Flint Castle which was besieged. However, a Royalist force landed at Mostyn under the Command of Major-General Sir Michael Erneley and drove them back into Cheshire. The site saw no further action until the Second Civil War when the site was stormed by Cromwell's men in 1648.
The Mostyn family converted the site into a landscaped woodland in 1790. Eighty years later, on 3 June 1870, it was purchased by Mold Council for £400 with the site being converted into a public park. The Gorsedd Circle was erected in 1923.