Flint Castle

This month we are back in Flintshire at Flint Castle. This was the first castle built by Edward 1.

After the death of his father, Henry111 Edward`s first priority was to strengthen the Monarchy and although he initially upheld the Treaty of Montgomery and Llywelyn ap Gruffydd as overlord of Wales his relationship with Llywelyn soon broke down mainly because he refused to pay homage to Edward and after his failure to attend various meetings with Edward the English resolved to make war on Llywelyn and when no answer was received from this threat Edward ordered his forces to assemble at Worcester for the 1st July 1277.

After assembling an army of 15000 strong supported by a sizeable fleet the first War of Welsh Independence did not last long. Edward marched along the North Wales coast and face with overwhelming odds Llywelyn withdrew into the mountainous Snowdonia area hoping to draw the King into a guerrilla type conflict but he was disappointed when Edward launched a naval attack on Anglesey compelling the Welsh to surrender in the Treaty of Aberconwy (November 1277).

Edward then began his building of a series of Castles commencing with Flint Castle.

There was no existing settlement at Flint when the English arrived possibly because the site was overlooked by higher ground, but Edward saw the proximity of the River Dee as a bonus for resupplying, and the castle was built on a rocky outcrop that jutted out into the river with a moat which filled at high tide. It is thought that his inspiration for Flint castle was the French walled town of Aigures Mortes which was dominated by a large tower and Flint is the only one of his fortifications to have a standalone Donjon Keep.

A civilian settlement was constructed to the south of the castle.

The workforce for this castle was recruited from Chester, Devises, Lancaster, Lincoln, Nottingham, Stafford, and Warwick

Carpenters, Diggers, Dykers, and Masons were invited to join the Royal force or have their homes burnt!!

By the 25th July, 1277construction was underway on the new fortress, The initial work was supervised by Richard L`Engenour but by November 1278 was being overseen by Edwards famous engineer Master James of St George, and by 1282 the Castle was near completion.

After the 1276/7 War Llywelyn was allowed to keep the title Prince of Wales but forced into the humiliating act of having to pay homage to Edward 1 who also granted his brother Dafydd ap Gruffydd extensive lands mainly around the Denbigh area, for his support in the war. This ended when Dafydd rebelled against the English rule in 1282 and together with his brother attacked the English which resulted in the 2nd War of Welsh Independence.

They were beaten by a superior English army and at the Battle of Orewin Bridge (1282 Llywelyn was killed and Dafydd was captured and executed having the dubious honour of being the first man to be hung, drawn, and quartered !!

Flint survived the Overthrow of Richard III in the 14th century but in 1646 the old castle held out for 3 months until the garrison was starved into surrender

After the War Flint castle was slighted by the Parliamentarians and the structure drifted into ruin. Nevertheless, the site of the Outer Bailey hosted the County Gaol between 1785 and 1880. The headquarters of the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers was based in dedicated buildings adjacent to the old castle from 1912 to1969.

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