Today we are exploring Flint castle, built between 1277 and 1284, the first of the chain of great fortresses built By King Edward 1 across the North Wales coastline. It was protected by a moat and the River Dee from which it could be supplied under siege. Edward I chose the site with great care, ensuring access by sea – for reinforcements and supplies – as well as by land.
Flint castle and its foreshore are just one of the many green spaces along the shoreline of the incredibly beautiful River Dee. A strong maritime heritage has encouraged travel, trade and industry to thrive along its banks and now in the more modern times, the mud flats, waters and marshes are significant for seals and for birdlife.
The castle was an effective defensive stronghold that during the civil war both Royalists and parliamentary forces held it. The new 1646 post war government voted for the castle to be dismantled to prevent future use. The job was done so well that just after six years the caste is described as being buried in its own ruins. Much of the stonework was then demolished to prevent it being re-fortified. A prison was built in the outer bailey in 1784 and was used until the early 20th century.
Although in ruin, today’s castle remains much as it appeared in Edward’s time. Square in design, Flint Castle had round angle towers at three corners and a huge keep, at the fourth. To the north and east, the waters of the Dee river rose close to the castle’s base; however, on the opposite side, the landward faces and an outer bailey was constructed, reinforcing the security needs of the inhabitants and symbolically setting the castle apart from the rest of the world. It’s the masterful work of architectural genius that gives tribute to Edward I’s mason, James of St. George.
The gatehouse leads directly into the inner bailey, a large expanse of grass, marked at the centre by the foundations of what apparently were later buildings, such as the kitchen an a hall. Like the exterior grounds, the inner bailey can be quite marshy, and would have been a moist floor for the daily activities of the castle dwellers and workers.
The three angle towers guarding the inner bailey are now in various stages of disrepair, access limited in two. The most complete is the largest one, in the northeast corner of the bailey. The three-storied southwest tower, for example, still contains the remains of a spiral staircase, windows, and holes for arrow slits. The interior of the northwest tower is still faced with smooth stone on the lowest portion, and embrasures with arrow slits also may be seen. Like its neighbour, the tower was probably three stories high, and still contains relics of a spiral stair and fireplace, which indicates that this was a structure built with the comfort of its inhabitants in mind.
Flint Castle is an unusual and interesting site, and is most worthy of a detour from the normal castle-hunting route in North Wales. When the site is open properly you are able to walk along the low ramparts of the great tower as the first tower we see. It’s here that you can explore the views surrounding the castle and experience a tower that is detached from the square inner ward, the tower was originally taller and had its own moat and drawbridge, to keep its occupants from harm if anyone tried to attack or enter the castle.
The best part of visiting Flint was being able to wander around the North East tower, heading down the steps and looking above where the highest points of the tower would show you the ruins of living quarters that were equipped with latrines and fireplaces. At the right time of day and when the tide is out, you can explore the muddy marshes and circle the entire castle to get up and close around the foundations of the castle. We did just that, and managed to get some shots of the castle from above, so we hope you’ve enjoyed watching us around Flint castle, it’s of those walks that are so peaceful and calming, we would definitely recommended!
Thanks for reading! See you next time 🙂