Rhuddlan Castle

Rhuddlan Castle, Denbighshire

~ History ~

796 - In the year of the Saxon King Offa's death, his English army wins a key battle against the Welsh at Rhuddaln, providing a foothold in which to conquer the surrounding district.

1063 - Rhuddlan is a royal seat of the Welsh prince Gruffudd ap Llywelyn, providing the Welsh with a strategic base from which to plunder across the border. Later in the year the Welsh are driven from Rhuddlan by a surprise attack by the Saxon Earl Harold, future King of England. Prince Gruffudd manages to escape by sea but within months, following significant pressure by the Saxons over the Welsh, his Welsh enemies treacherously find and kill the prince. His head is taken to Earl Harold, and ultimately delivered to King Edward the Confessor.

1066 - King Harold is defeated at the Battle of Hastings by William the Conqueror who is crowned King Of England on Christmas day.

1073 - Robert 'of Rhuddlan', a kinsman and lieutenant to the Norman Earl of Chester erects a timber  motte and bailey castle at Rhuddlan in which to exploit and consolidate his lands.

1075 - Gruffudd-ap-Cynan captures the castle bailey but fails to take the motte.

1086 - A small Norman borough is established at Rhuddlan.

1150 - Rhuddlan is captured by Owain Gwynedd.

1157 - The English retake Rhuddlan.

1167 - Owain Gwynedd recaptures Rhuddlan following a three month siege.

1241 - King Henry III captures Rhuddlan for the English.

1267 - As part of the Treaty of Montgomery, prince Llywelyn the Last receives Rhuddlan and its castle for the Welsh.

1274 ~ Prince Llywelyn's treacherous younger brother who had some years earlier betrayed him, siding with the English in order to unseat him to take Gwynedd for himself,  again accussed of treason. Together with Gruffudd ap Gwenwynwyn of neighbouring Powys, they conspire to kill Llwyelyn. Alerted to the plot, Llywelyn summons Gruffudd to appear before him at Rhuddlan. There Gruffudd and his son Owain are convicted of infidelity with Owain taken into custody as a pledge of his fathers sworn good future conduct. Some months later Gruffudd confesses all to Llywelyn who summons Dafydd to appear before him and his council at Rhuddlan to answer charges of treason. Dafydd fails to attend and despite being given another chance to answer the charges against, instead flees to England with his armed guard. There he is joined by Gruffudd who leaves his son at the mercy of Llwywelyn's wrath.

King Edward, wanting to weaken Llywelyn's grip on North Wales, welcomes both Gruffudd and Dafydd into his court and the King's protection.

1275 ~ So angered by King Edward's actions, Llywellyn refuses to do homage to the King for refusing to give up those who conspired to kill him.King Edward uses Llywellyn's actions as an excuse to declare war.

1277 - 16th July, King Edward I arrives at Chester to take command of his army to crush the rebellious Welsh prince Llywelyn the Last. Dafydd is amongst Edward's retinue. By the end of the month Edward establishes an advanced base at Flint, where work is immediately started on the construction of Flint Castle. With naval support of 25 ships he pushes west along the Welsh coast, reaching Rhuddlan on 22nd August to establish his headquarters. By the end of September Llywelyn has surrendered, though hostilities are not formerly terminated until November with Llywelyn's submission to the King at Rhuddlan.

King Edward gives orders for an entirely new castle to be built at Rhuddlan in stone.

1280 - A two mile deep water channel cut into the River Clwyd to provide support by sea the the castle is completed after seventy men working six days a week for three years at a cost of £755 complete the diversion of the river.

1282 - Llywelyn's siege of Rhuddlan is lifted with the arrival of a royal force from Chester, led by the Kings Master mason James of St George, who goes on to oversee the completion of the castle in the same year. James then directs the completion of Flint Castle and later Conway, Caernarfon, Harlech and Beaumaris Castles.

Llywelyn decides to leave his brother Dafydd to defend Gwynedd whilst he moves south in an attempt to open up a new front against King Edward. He is lured south by Edmund Mortimer and other English nobles with the prospect of an alliance against King Edward. Related the the powerful Mortimers through marriage, Llywelyn is hopeful these discruntled marcher lords will join him. However he and his armed guard are ambushed as they fall into the trap set for them. The prince and his guards are overwelmed and killed. Llywellyn is decapitated and his head sent to King Edward in Rhuddlan where it is displayed to his troops before it is taken to London and placed on a spike at the Tower.

1283 ~ Dafydd's struggle continues until he captured and executed, bringing the Welsh War of Independence to an end.

1284 - On 19th March the new statute for Wales is issued at Rhuddlan. The Welsh nobles tell Edward I 'they would never yield obedience to any other than a prince of their own nation, of their language, and whose life and conversation was spotless and unblameable'. Later Edward replies that he would 'appoint them a prince who was born in Wales, could speak no English, and whose life and conversation nobody could stain'; and when the Welsh had given the King their promise to accept and obey whoever he should name, he straightaway names his own infant son Edward who had just been born at Caernarfon Castle. Four months later the infant Edward II is bought to Rhuddlan on his way to England as new heir to the the throne.

1294 - A general Welsh uprising sees the constable of Caernarfon killed and the castle heavily damaged, with sieges in place at Cardigan, Builth, Bere and Denbigh castles. Flint and Rhuddlan are able to break their sieges through provision by sea.

1400 - In September the town of Rhuddlan is ravaged by a Welsh uprising led by Owain Glyndwr, though the castle remains in English hands.

1646 - The Royalist garrison manage to hold out until July when they are forced to surrender to the Parliamentarian's.

1648 - Parliament votes that Rhuddlan and other castles in Flintshire should be untenable and in May the High Sheriff is charged with the 'care of demolishment'.


Hylas Lane, Rhuddlan,South of Rhyl


A525 / A547


LL18 5AD

Rhuddlan Castle is concentric in design, consisting of a very strongly defended inner ward, of symmetrical plan, completely surrounded by an 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, probably used as a dock. The inner ward is diamond shaped with a singular tower to the northern and southern points and twin towered gatehouses to the eastern and western points. A further tower overlooks the all important dock.