Aberystwyth Castle

 

The History of Aberystwyth Castle
The History of the site of Aberystwyth Castle dates back to antiquity. The Romans built forts in this area and Hillforts, built by the Celts, were also constructed within this location. The name Aberystwyth means 'mouth of the river Ystwyth'. The first castle was built in 1109 by the Normans. In 1135 much of the Norman castle was burnt by Gryffud ap Rhys - the castle was restored by Cadwallader. Owen Gwynedd, the brother-in-law of Cadwallader, then burnt the castle in 1142. The Normans took the area from the Welsh in 1158 building a second castle. This was destroyed by the Welsh in 1212. In 1277 the third castle was built on the site which was originally called Llanbadarn Castle. The castle was a massive stronghold and withheld a siege in 1295. Aberystwyth Castle was used by the Royalist during the English Civil War in 1642. In 1649 the castle was blown up by Roundheads, the Parliamentary forces. All that was left of Aberystwyth Castle were ruins and so they still remain.

 
 
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Aberystwyth Castle

  • The History of Aberystwyth Castle
  • Information about Aberystwyth Castle
  • When was this Welsh Medieval Castle built?
  • The Design, Layout and Architecture of Aberystwyth Castle
  • A Concentric Castle Design

Aberystwyth Castle

Key facts and Information about Aberystwyth Castle

  • The location of Aberystwyth Castle - Clwyd
  • The building of Aberystwyth Castle started in 1277
  • The building of Aberystwyth Castle was completed in 1289
  • The Architecture / Style - Gothic Architecture aka Edwardian
  • The original cost of building Aberystwyth Castle - 4,200
  • The Architecture / Style - Gothic Architecture aka Edwardian
  • A Welsh Fortified town, called a Bastide, was built just after Aberystwyth Castle was erected

The Building of Aberystwyth Castle
The history of the building of Aberystwyth Castle is fascinating. In just a relatively short period of time a significant number of new Welsh Medieval Castles were built or modernised under the instructions of King Edward I (1272-1307) including the new Aberystwyth Castle.  King Edward employed the services of an architect and master builder called Master James of St George to carry out many of these ambitious plans for a chain of Medieval Castles to be built in Wales. Aberystwyth Medieval Castle was the third castle to be built on this site in Wales on the estuary of the River Ystwyth. An important feature of Aberystwyth Castle is its access to the sea. During the construction of Aberystwyth Castle men, equipment and building materials were easily transported by boats to the site of the castle. Once Aberystwyth Castle was built fresh supplies, provisions and reinforcements prevented the castle occupants from being starved into submission during siege warfare. The advantages of swift and easy accessibility via the sea ensured that the new fortified town, which was built at the same time, or just after the castle, became a successful and prosperous stronghold for its English inhabitants.

Aberystwyth - A Concentric Castle Design
Welsh Castles including Aberystwyth Castle, built by Edward I, are referred to as Concentric Castles. The Gothic architecture of the Medieval era together with the design of Concentric Castles encompassed some, or all, of the following elements:

  • A Stronger central Keep or Main Tower
  • A Round or Circular Shaped Keep
  • A High wall, complete with towers surrounded the Keep and the Inner Bailey
  • At least one lower, outer wall surrounded the Inner High Wall
  • Several Outer Walls and Outer Baileys were often added!
  • Several Gatehouses were featured
  • Moats were added which surrounded the whole Concentric Castle complex

Concentric Castles were bigger than any previous Castles! The walls were thicker, stronger and higher with turrets! The Inner Walls were higher than Outer walls! Drawbridges were added! The interiors were more comfortable, even luxurious! Concentric Castles, like Aberystwyth, were very expensive!

Aberystwyth - A Welsh Fortified Town (aka Bastide or Burgh)
Aberystwyth Castle was constructed in conjunction with a new, fortified town. The idea of building fortified, purpose-built townships were based on a combination of the Bastides of Gascony and the Burghs, or Burhs, built by King Alfred the Great of England. Welsh Medieval Fortified Townships. The 'Bastide' at Aberystwyth was a strongly defended town, the construction of which, had been subject to proper planning and architectural design. The layout of the town at Aberystwyth took into consideration the following defence factors:

  • The layout of the town's houses and buildings in Aberystwyth were planned so that they would not impede the circulation of troops
  • The rapid movement of the troops garrisoned at Aberystwyth was ensured by building a main road which provided direct access to the curtain wall and the main gate and towers
  • The central public square in the Aberystwyth township doubled as a mustering point for all troops
  • Wall Towers could only be accessed from a doorway on the battlement accessed via a moveable wooden staircase on the inside of the wall
  • The central public square doubled as a mustering point for all troops
  • The Town wall was defended by a number of towers
  • The weakest points of any building are the corners - these towers were therefore round
  • Wall Towers could only be accessed from a doorway on the battlement accessed via a moveable wooden staircase on the inside of the wall

Aberystwyth Castle
Aberystwyth Castle was one of the ten key Welsh Medieval Castles which were commissioned by King Edward I. 

Aberystwyth Castle

The Welsh Medieval Castles built by the English under the direction of King Edward I provided a power base for the Medieval Plantagenet King and ensured that the Welsh were subservient to the new English rule.
Edward crushed the Welsh rebellion under Llewellyn ap Gruffudd and conquered his kingdom of Gwynedd in Northern Wales. Wales was conquered by Edward I and became incorporated into England under the Statute of Rhuddlan ( also called the Statute of Wales ) in 1284 - the building of Aberystwyth Castle helped King Edward I to achieve his ambitions.
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