Site of Rhuddlan’s first castle

Site of Rhuddlan’s first castle

South of Rhuddlan Castle is Twthill, a riverside escarpment which was once topped by an earlier castle.

It’s thought that a mansion belonging to Welsh nobles on Twthill was destroyed by fire in 1063, when the forces of Harold Godwinson attacked Welsh ruler Gruffydd ap Llywelyn. Harold later became King of England but was killed in 1066 when Norman invaders won the Battle of Hastings. That led to Robert of Rhuddlan becoming lord of much of North Wales – based at the motte and bailey castle which he built on Twthill in 1073.

Gerald of Wales and the Archbishop of Canterbury stayed a night at the castle in 1188 while travelling around Wales to preach and recruit for the third crusade. Gerald described the castle as a fine structure in his journal of the tour. The visitors were entertained by Dafydd, eldest son of Owain Gwynedd (king of Gwynedd). Gerald recorded that many local men pledged to join the crusade the following morning, before he and the Archbishop went to St Asaph for mass.

The castle was reinforced in the 1240s but was replaced in the 1270s by the stone castle built by King Edward I. Traces of the bailey (the outer defence which surrounded the central motte) are still visible in the field.

The name Twthill comes from the Old English (Anglo-Saxon) tõt hyll, meaning “lookout hill”. Usually it referred to a prominent hill close to a castle where observers could spot an approaching enemy. The name can also be found in the fortified towns of Caernarfon, Harlech and Conwy, and as Tuttle Street in Wrexham. Toot Hill occurs in England, in various guises.

Postcode: LL18 5RL    View Location Map

With thanks to Prof Hywel Wyn Owen, of the Welsh Place-Name Society, for place-name information

 

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