Rhuddlan may not be as well known as some of the north Wales castles, yet it shares much in common with its illustrious neighbours. Like Caernarfon and Conwy, it was built as one of the "iron ring" of fortresses by the English monarch, Edward I, in his late 13th century campaigns against the Welsh. Rhuddlan's massive twin-towered gatehouse (heralding the inner core of a characteristic concentric "walls within walls" system of defences) immediately catches the eye.
But the most impressive engineering achievement of the castle builders can be seen alongside the fortress. Although not immediately apparent to today's visitors, Rhuddlan (almost 5km/3mls from the coast) was a castle that remained faithful to the Edwardian principle of seabourne access. The clue lies in the unnaturally straight course of the River Clwyd alongside, which was diverted and canalized to allow provision of the castle by ship, a truly mammoth task involving 1,800 ditchers.
Remains of a defended river gate still exist in the outer ring of walls, overlooked by the towers of the powerful diamond shaped inner ward. In 1284, the castle played a seminal role in the history of Welsh/English relations when the Statute of Rhuddlan was issued from here, a settlement that lasted until the Act of Union in 1536. Edward's fortress stands close to another castle, the earlier Norman stronghold known as Twthill, marked by a prominent earthen mound.
- Dogs on leads allowed
Share this article