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Page Two of English Castles
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Chepstow Castle

Chepstow: It was William fitz Osbern, the Norman founder of Hereford castle, that was the architect and builder of Chepstow. Even while Hereford was in early stages of construction, he set off south to subdue the area between Hereford and the sea. Three years later he returned to Hereford, having seen both Chepstow and Monmouth, which was built to protect a double crossing of the Monnow and Wye rivers, almost completed.

Conway Castle

Conway: This massive construction at the mouth of the Conway river was began in 1283 by master builder James of St. George on the direct orders of king Edward Ist, who said that the castle would never fall into enemy hands. O if he had only lived until 1403, two of Owain Glyndwr's cousins along with twelve of their men tricked their way in when the garrison was in church. It was ransomed back to the English almost a month later, but it had been in "enemy hands".

Denbigh Castle

Denbigh: On rising ground high up on the moor above the town of the same name sits the ruins of this another of Edward Ist ring of fortresses. However, it was not the first castle to be built upon the imposing site, for here was the castle of Dafydd ap Gruffydd the brother of Llywelyn The Last. It took a mighty English army over twenty eight days to overwhelm Dafydd's troops in those final days of the Welsh crown.

Flint Castle

Flint: Despite the fact that nearly 2,500 men worked on site at one time, it was not until 1285 that the castle neared completion. Edward Ist chose the site well, for despite being attacked jointly by the troops of both Llywelyn and Dafydd ap Gruffydd the castle never fell into Welsh hands. Undoubtedly its survival was due to quick sands protecting the approach on the land side, plus its ability to be restocked from the sea.

Kidwelly castle

Kidwelly: The first Norman position of Kidwelly at the upper limit of tidal water in the Gwendraeth valley in south west Wales was established by Roger, the Bishop of Salisbury and the Justiciar of England. It was attacked and burnt in 1159 by the Lord Rhys of Deheubarth who then rebuilt it. However, the castle was back in Norman hands by 1201. The ruins one can see today, are of a castle that was finally completed early in the fifteenth century.

Llanstephan Castle

Llanstephan: This powerful fortress high on a hill overlooking Carmarthen bay in west Wales was a prized Norman possession, that is until warriors under the command of the three princes of Deheubarth appeared out of the rising mists one morning in May of 1146. After what was a bloody and vicious attack the castle fell to the Welsh force as night was falling.

When the debris of war had been cleared Cadell, the elder Prince, appointed his 15 year old brother Maredudd as Castellan. To young for such an appointment one might say, no indeed within days of his brothers having left for home the young prince was called upon to demonstrate his prowess as Castellan. A Norman force arrived in an attempt to reclaim the castle. The young Castellan however, being a master tactician even at such an early age, succeeded in organizing his troops and beat off the attack: indeed Maredudd was to hold the castle for the following 12 years until his death.

Ludlow Castle

Ludlow: This great fortress, partially protected by the rivers Teme and Corfe, was built in the then north west corner of the DeLacy family estate. It joined the line of fortresses along the Welsh border, having Shrewsbury to the north and Hereford to the south. It became an English Royal castle in 1461 and except for a short period of time during the English civil war it was to remain so for the next 350 years.

Montgomery Castle

Montgomery: Construction of this castle high up on a rocky promontory overlooking the Severn valley and of the town of the same name, was began by order of Henry III in 1223. It was attacked by Llywelyn ap Iorwerth in 1228. He again attacked it in 1231, at the same time he burnt the town to the ground. In 1245 it was the turn of Dafydd ap Llywelyn to attack, damage, and burn the castle and town.

Pembroke Castle

Pembroke: Built by Roger of Montgomery in 1093, this mighty Norman fortress withstood every Welsh attack that could be brought against it. Situated on a headland above the tidal waters of the Haven of Milford, the castle guarded the main western route from the sea into Wales. It was from the mighty battlements that Lord Rhys of Deheubarth watched the ill-fated army of king Henry II sail for the invasion of Ireland.

Shrewsbury Castle

Shrewsbury: The castle, who's very rock foundations are washed by the river Severn, was built by Roger de Montgomery in 1070. It guarded the only safe way across the marshes into Shrewsbury town. It was from here that many expeditions into Wales were planed and carried out. The castle and town surrendered to the forces of Llywelyn ap Iorwerth ( Llywelyn the Great ) on May 17th 1215, during the Barons rebellion against Llywelyn's father-in-law king John of England.

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