Significant ruins of a major English built fortification in Wales including remains of the outer perimeter wall, inner walls, double turreted Gatehouses and the canalisation of the River Clwyd. The earthwork motte of the earlier castle is nearby.
1. Aside from the English conquest of Edward I’s reign, Rhuddlan saw action in 1400 when Owain Glyndŵr rose against Henry IV. The Welsh damaged the town but the castle stood firm. The site was also garrisoned for the King during the Civil War and held out until July 1646. Thereafter it was slighted by Parliamentary forces.
Twt Hill (Motte)
Notes: Located in Rhuddlan the castle has ample parking and a small shop. Twt Hill Motte is a short walk away along a footpath accessed from Hylas Lane in front of the castle.
A mighty English fortress built to mark the new frontier following Edward I’s initial punitive campaign into Wales, Rhuddlan Castle ultimately became the launch pad for the complete conquest of the principality. An English outpost in hostile Welsh territory the castle could be re-supplied from the sea due to an extensive canalisation of the River Clwyd.
HISTORY OF RHUDDLAN CASTLE
Situated at a fording place on the River Clwyd, Rhuddlan has been the location of a settlement since at least the eighth century AD and was a key friction point between the English and Welsh. With regards fortifications there is little known before 1063 when it was reported that the Welsh prince Grufford ap Llywelyn was driven from his palace in Rhuddlan by Earl Harold (later King Harold). Following the Norman invasion, Grufford's palace was seized and a motte and bailey castle built over the top; the mound remains visible to this day (known as Twt Hill).
Conflict between the Welsh and English continued throughout the eleventh and twelfth centuries ultimately culminating in the war between Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, Prince of Wales and Edward I, King of England in 1277. Edward invaded North Wales establishing an advance base at Flint (where he established Flint Castle) and pushed onto capture Rhuddlan. Although Gruffudd sued for peace at this stage the stone castle seen today was built to ensure effective English control of the newly captured region; construction started in September 1277 and continued until 1282 when the war resumed largely due to resentment over the increasingly brutal attempts to impose English law s and customs on Wales.
This time Edward set out to completely conquer Wales and Rhuddlan was in the front line. Based on building records, it may have suffered damage from attack(s) between 1282-5 and efforts were made to improve the castle's resilience by ensuring it could be re-supplied from sea; the River Clwyd was canalised for a stretch of over two miles. By 1283 though the Welsh had been defeated and, according to an Elizabethan historian, it was at Rhuddlan where Edward I promised to give the Welsh a new "prince who was born in Wales, could speak no English and whose life and conversation nobody could stain". He was referring to his infant son, the future Edward II, who had been born at Caernarfon.