Denbigh Castle

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The History of Denbigh Castle
The History of the site of Denbigh Castle dates back to the Iron Age Hillforts. The first stone fortress which was built by the Welsh in the early 1200's and occupied by occupied by Dafydd ap Grufudd. The Welsh name 'Denbigh' means "little fort". The lordship of Denbigh were granted to Henry de Lacy (1249-1311), third Earl of Lincoln, of the great de Lacy family of the Honors of Pontefract. He ensured that all traces of the original Welsh castle was destroyed. He wanted to stamp the mark of himself and the English on the castle and even the doorway of Denbigh Castle carries his effigy in stone.

 
 
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His son, Edmund, drowned in a well at the Red Tower in Denbigh Castle in Wales and it is said that this tragic incident led to De Lacey losing all interest in the construction of the castle - it was never fully completed. The castle was a massive stronghold and Denbigh Castle was used by the Royalist during the English Civil War in 1642. In 1646 much of the the castle was ruined by the Roundheads, the Parliamentary forces. All that was left of Denbigh Castle were ruins and so they still remain.

Denbigh Castle

Denbigh Castle

  • The History of Denbigh Castle
  • Information about Denbigh Castle
  • When was this Welsh Medieval Castle built?
  • The Design, Layout and Architecture of Denbigh Castle
  • What does the name Denbigh mean?

Key facts and Information about Denbigh Castle

  • The location of Denbigh Castle - Denbighshire, North East Wales
  • The building of Denbigh Castle started in 1282
  • The building of Denbigh Castle was never fully completed
  • The Architecture / Style - Gothic Architecture aka Edwardian
  • The original cost of building Denbigh Castle is estimated at 1,900

The Building of Denbigh Castle
The history of the building of Denbigh 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 Denbigh 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. Denbigh Castle was built in 1282 in Wales on the estuary of the River Clwyd flowing down to the sea. An important feature of Denbigh Castle is its access to the sea. During the construction of Denbigh Castle men, equipment and building materials were easily transported by boats to the site of the castle. Once Denbigh 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 as the castle, became a successful and prosperous stronghold for its English inhabitants.

Denbigh - A Concentric Castle Design
Welsh Castles including Denbigh 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 Denbigh, were very expensive!

Denbigh - A Welsh Fortified Town (aka Bastide or Burgh)
Denbigh 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 Denbigh was a strongly defended town, the construction of which, had been subject to proper planning and architectural design. The layout of the town at Denbigh took into consideration the following defence factors:

  • The layout of the town's houses and buildings in Denbigh were planned so that they would not impede the circulation of troops
  • The rapid movement of the troops garrisoned at Denbigh 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 Denbigh 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

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

Denbigh Castle

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 Denbigh Castle helped King Edward I to achieve his ambitions.

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