Rhuddlan Castle

Begun in 1277, this castle remains Rhuddlan’s outstanding medieval treasure. 

It was designed for King Edward I by the famous architect James of St. George, the first of the revolutionary ’concentric’ fortresses – among them Conwy, Harlech, and Beaumaris – which Edward raised to hem in and control North Wales.

Instead of the traditional ‘keep’, its defenses consist of three concentric rings of fortification.

The inmost and most impressive is a diamond-plan stronghold, with twin-towered gatehouses at two corners and single round towers at the others.

Beyond this is an outer circle of lower turreted walls, and beyond again a deep moat linked to the River Clwyd.

By an amazing feat of medieval engineering, this then sluggish and winding river was converted into a deep-water channel to the sea, so that Edward’s ships could relieve the castle at times of siege.

Some seventy labourers – conscripts from the Lincolnshire Fens, using only hand tools – took three years to complete the two-mile-long channel.

Rhuddlan Castle thereafter became the base for Edward’s decisive invasion of Wales in 1282.

According to the oldest versions of the tale, it was here – and not Caernarfon – that he proclaimed his baby son (‘born in Wales and without a word of English’) the first English Prince of Wales, was promulgated by a parliament held here in 1284.