Last year we decided to visit the small city of St Asaph in North Wales. There is no train station there so the only way we could get there was by bus, so we got the train to nearby Rhyl and found a bus connection (51) from there. The journey was quite interesting as we passed through two small towns, each with some interesting landmarks…
Status: Denbighshire (historically Flintshire), Town, Wales
Travel: Merseyrail (Southport – Chester, via Liverpool Central), Arriva Trains Wales (Chester – Rhyl), Arriva Bus (Rhyl – St Asaph)
Eating & Sleeping: N/A
Attractions: Rhuddlan Castle etc
We were enjoying the journey through the North Wales countryside, which was interesting as it was the first time we had travelled through Wales on the bus, having usually been on the train between the major towns and cities that lie on the North Wales Coast Line. It’s easy to forget how beautiful the general landscape can be, and the amazing things you can find going through so many communities at less that 100 mph!
In the distance, a large stone structure loomed into view, and at first glance it looked more like a concrete fort, until we got a bit closer…
Rhuddlan Castle is a beautiful thing, and was built by Edward I (1239 – 1307) between 1277 and 1282.
This area of Wales had been fought for and governed a few times through history already at this point, and before the Castle was built Rhuddlan was the local capital where the Lords of Rhuddlan ruled North East Wales, for the last King of Wales, Gruffydd ap Llywelyn (1007 – 1063). This all changed when the Normans invaded in the 11th century, and Rhuddlan was fought over by the Princes of Gwynedd and the Earls of Chester, but Wales remained free.
200 years later in 1277, Edward I began his invasion of Wales, starting with a base at the coastal town of Flint, just outside Chester. He built Flint Castle, and his army began to take places along the coast. They soon reached Rhuddlan, and Edward signed a treaty with Llewelyn (Treaty of Aberconwy), that upon his death this area of Wales would be given to the English and become part of the Kingdom of England. Edwards impressive portfolio of Castles around North Wales consolidated his power here, and kept the Welsh in check.
At this point Dafydd ap Gruffydd (1238 – 1283) inherited the title of Prince of Wales, created in 1267 when the Prince of Gwynedd was recognised as such by the English, and ruled areas in Wales alongside the English King. When he rebelled this was considered as treason and Edward I annexed the Principality of Wales between 1282 and 1823, and it became part of England. This however only covered around 2/3 of modern day Wales, so there was still work to do to gain control of the rest of the land. His armies soon took control of the other principalities that made up the rest of modern day Wales.
Later in 1284 another treaty, The Statue of Rhuddlan, was proclaimed and set out how Wales, particularly North Wales, was to be governed, and split North Wales into 4 counties, Anglesey, Merionethshire, Caernarfonshire and Flintshire. The remaining Welsh Lords around the Welsh Lands paid homage to Edward to keep their lands and in 1536 a formal act of Union merged England and Wales, with Wales being forced to adopt the English Legal System.
Rhuddlan Castle’s story ended in 1648, when it was partially destroyed by the Parliamentarians during the English Civil War to prevent further use. They taken the Castle from the Royalists 2 years earlier, and destroyed their garrison. Today the Castle is under the care of Cadw, a heritage body in Wales.
Its amazing how much history there is in one building, and how big an impact it had on Wales as a whole. The bus kept moving and we would soon arrive in the town of Bodelwyddan…