Aberystwyth Castle remains

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Aberystwyth Castle remains

These stone walls are the remains of one of numerous castles built by King Edward I in his attempt to subjugate Wales. Construction of Aberystwyth Castle began in August 1277 and was finished in 1289. It was built on a grand scale and to a concentric design (forming an enclosure within an enclosure).

The castle was seized in April 1404 during the uprising led by Owain Glyndŵr. For the next four years it was used as the administrative centre for the large area of Wales which Glyndŵr controlled. He probably held court in the castle from time to time. In 1408 the castle was re-taken by English forces, and Glyndŵr retreated north along the coast to Harlech castle.

In August 1485 the castle presented an obstacle to Henry Tudor’s fledgling army as it marched rapidly from Pembrokeshire to the Battle of Bosworth. Historian Polydore Vergil (c.1470-1555) recorded that Lord Ferrers, who owned the castle at the time, had garrisoned the site lightly, and Henry’s forces captured the castle “without much trouble”.

This was further vindication of Henry’s tactics in planning his route to Bosworth. The route passed through remote areas of Wales to avoid significant conflict before his army had increased to full strength. By defeating King Richard III at Bosworth, Henry became King Henry VII and founded the Tudor dynasty which was to have a profound influence on British history.

In 1637 Thomas Bushell was officially licensed by King Charles I to make coins in Aberystwyth Castle. Bushell had recently taken over the lease on silver mines in Ceredigion. Previously the silver went to London for minting, but Bushell persuaded the king that this could be done locally. He was authorised to use Welsh silver to make the following coins: half crown, shilling, half shilling, groat, three pence, two pence, penny and half penny.

The mint closed with the outbreak of the Civil War. In 1646 Aberystwyth Castle was surrendered to Parliamentarian troops, who systematically destroyed most of the castle.

Aerial photography in 2001 revealed evidence that the ground between the castle and war memorial had probably been used for growing produce at some time.

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