Remains of Flint Castle

Remains of Flint Castle

This was the first of many castles built in North Wales on the orders of King Edward I to strengthen English control. Some of the best views of the ruins and their estuarial setting are from the Wales Coast Path north west and south east of the castle.

The castle’s construction began in 1277. The fortified new town of Flint was also built and eventually became Flintshire’s administrative centre. The castle’s construction lost momentum after Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, the Prince of Wales, signed a treaty with Edward in November 1277, but picked up again after the Welsh began a revolt in March 1282 which included attacks on Flint castle and town.

The castle, largely finished in 1284, featured the Great Tower (donjon) which you can still see today. The tower was originally taller and had its own moat and drawbridge to keep its occupants from harm if attackers entered the castle.

King Richard II was brought to the castle in August 1399 after his abduction near Colwyn Bay. Here he met Henry Bolingbroke, who became King Henry IV when Richard was dethroned in September. Richard died a few months later. The meeting features in Shakespeare’s play The Tragedy of King Richard the Second.

Royalists used the castle in the Civil War but surrendered it to the Parliamentarians in 1646. After the war the castle was damaged to prevent future defensive use. This also ended its use as a prison. A new jail was quickly built in the town, near the 17th-century courthouse which still stands.

The site was again used for prisoners from 1785, when a county jail was built in the castle bailey (between the outer and inner walls). In 1840 the press reported that it held 13 prisoners including Edward Jones, who awaited execution for murdering a gamekeeper. In 1861 Sarah Edwards, aged 77, of Holywell was imprisoned here, condemned to death for killing her frail and needy husband Thomas, aged 80, by cutting his throat. She was officially granted a “respite” from her sentence in August 1861.

The site saw further military use before and during the First World War. In 1910 the War Office approved the castle’s purchase by the Flintshire Territorial Association, for the 5th Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers to move its headquarters here from Hawarden.

Today the castle ruins are in the care of Cadw. Entry is free.

CH6 5PF    View Location Map

Flint Castle on Cadw website