Castles, Flint, Denbigh and Ruthin
I love Castles, I have always had an interest in them, coming from Pembrey which is close to magnificent Kidwelly castle, which I have visited on many occasions, first with my parents and then with an old uncle of mine as a child, also I have taken my children there for school castle projects as well as re-enactments. At one time we had family membership of CADW which meant free entry to all Welsh castles, we managed to visit quite a lot during the time of the membership which was probably round the time my eldest daughter had a castle project to do in school, it made the whole project a lot more interesting for her to visit the castles and I started to love them even more, each one for different reasons.
Up until this week I think my favourite had been Conway, my youngest daughter and I spent the day visiting Caernarvon and Conway one day whilst the older two practiced their singing for the annual Eisteddfod which was held on Anglesey that particular year. We took our video recorder and did a running commentary of our visit and had such fun, singing and joking with the camera, unfortunately someone at home taped over the video which I was really disappointed about.
The main reason Conway was one of my favourites was because it was so big and some of the town walls were remaining and we explored them all, spent quite a bit of time there, it was such an enjoyable day, anyway Denbigh Castle is very similar in that there are some of the town walls left and the position of the ruins is amazing, you can see all around a full 360 degrees and with each turn, beautiful views all around. It probably helped that I chose a glorious sunny day to visit; the sunshine always makes things better.
On the day I visited it was the most wonderful day, it started late, just before lunch time, with the intention of going to McDonalds to use the Wi-Fi so that I could pay final bills online, email about the CSAS jobs I am signed up for, as well as the emails for the kids etc. but when I went out the sun was shining, so I decided to go to Denbigh to find a McDonalds there (there wasn’t one). I ended up going to Denbigh castle, a magnificent castle which is now in ruins but plenty to see nonetheless, the views from its ramparts were wonderful, and it was so clear to see the countryside and mountains that surround Denbigh.
In Denbigh castle there was an option to go and visit the castle walls which were separate from the main castle and you needed a key to open the gate to the walk, I paid the deposit for the key and went for the walk, it only takes about 20 minutes but well worth it. The main reason you need a key is because the walls overlook the houses’ private gardens so they keep it relatively private by locking it and only allowing people who are interested to pay a deposit for the key and take the walk, rather than leave it open and possibly get youngsters hanging around on the walls and annoying the house owners.
The current Denbigh Castle was built on the site of a former Welsh stronghold held by Dafydd Ap Gruffydd, the brother of Llywelyn Ap Gruffydd. The Welsh castle originally belonged to Llywelyn the Great. In its early days ownership went back and forth between the English and Welsh, Edward 1st conquered the final welsh prince Dafydd Ap Gruffydd in 1282 and had the Welsh castle torn down and Henry de Lacy rebuilt the castle, but it was taken over by the Welsh again in 1294. More fighting ensued and the castle was finally finished in 1304. In the 1600’s the castle was deliberately ruined to prevent its use as a Royalist stronghold and it was left to decay until CADW took responsibility for its upkeep in modern times.
I do believe that all ruins are pretty similar but there is always a special ambience about each place, in Denbigh it’s the best place for a castle to be built because of the amount of surrounding countryside you can see from the turrets. I have visited a lot of castle ruins in Wales and in other countries like Macchu Picchu in Peru and they all have a special peace and tranquillity about them. There is however a huge difference in the way MP was built compared to the castles, the stones used in MP were much bigger and the precision with which they were joined was meticulous, in fact still a bit of a mystery, which is worthy of another blog post at a later date.