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Caergwrle Castle

Caergwrle Castle was built between 1277 and 1282 by Dafydd a Graffydd who launched an ill fated rebellion against the English which led to Edward I's successful military campaign in Wales. The ruin was rebuilt by Edward I but was abandoned shortly afterwards due to fire damage. Its architecture reflects Dafydd's divided loyalties, with English elements incorporated into a basically Welsh pattern. A single curtain wall, which survives on the east, is fronted by a substantial ditch with an outer counterscarp bank; there are towers, with blunt apses of English pattern, on the north and south-east and a round keep at the south. The south-east tower, again unusually, apparently had a living chamber at ground level, and its poor defensive position offers inadequate cover to the eastern curtain. There is no evidence of defences of the precipitous west.

History of Caergwrle Castle

1277 - Dafydd ap Gruffud, younger brother to Llwelyn the Last, Prince of Wales, joins forces as an army officer with the English King Edward I against the Welsh, which results in the defeat of his elder brother. In return for his treachery against his own brother and people, he is granted extensive lands east of the Conwy. He sets about the building of Caergwrle Castle. He chooses the site of a 4th century hillfort with extensive views over the Alyn valley and major route from Cheshire to the mountains of Wales. Dafydd, however, remains discontented and repeatedly falls out with his new English allies.

1282 - Dafydd attacks the English at nearby Hawarden Castle. This action precipitates Edward's second campaign into Wales. Dafydd flees the incomplete Caergwrle Castle, slighting it before he leaves, including filling the well with stones. Dafydd is later captured by the English and taken to Shrewsbury where he is hung, drawn and quartered. (more in the History section)

Text by Fred Vincent