The castle is a most odd structure. It
may have existed from an early date, but there is no reference to the
castle before 1277, when it was given to Prince Dafydd ap Gruffydd.
The placename Ruthin dates back to the Dark Ages at least.
On 12 August 1211 Prince Llywelyn ab Iorwerth quitclaimed the
Perfeddwald to his father in law, King John. In this he specifically mentions the cantref of Dyffryn Clwyd with Ruthin.
He similarly mentions Rhufiniog with Denbigh. The
implication is that there might already have been a castle in both
places. However, in the same document he granted John the
castle of Degannwy with
Rhos, while no castles are mentioned at Ruthin or Denbigh. On the
rebellion of Dafydd ap Gruffydd (d.1283) in 1282 the castle was
reduced by King Edward and then granted to the Greys of Wilton. In the
rebellion of 1294, Denbigh, Ruthin, Mold and Hawarden castle fell to
Prince Madog, but the castle is not recorded as being damaged.
Probably they were all merely pillaged although one chronicle
states that they were all 'wasted to their foundations'.
The castle withstood an eleven month siege in 1646 and was
then slighted by parliament.
Prince Dafydd is stated to be responsible for building both wards of
Ruthin castle in the period 1277 to 1282, despite the fact that they
are both quite different. The upper ward is pentagonal and
consists of large D shaped towers and has a twin towered gatehouse to
the east. Some of the work in this gatehouse is very
reminiscent of Wilton castle
in Herefordshire which was owned by the Grey family who held Ruthin
from 1283. Yet the north and NW tower are far more
reminiscent of Welsh work. So too is the peculiar
hole in the wall style gate with a corbelled out round
turret above in the lower ward. This
lower ward is rectangular and had round towers at its two exposed
corners. Much of the interior of the
fortress has been demolished and a Victorian hotel built
not join me at other Lost Welsh Castles next Spring?
Please see the information on tours at Scholarly
Paul Martin Remfry