Castles & Ruins of Denbighshire (and beyond!)
One of the chief attractions of North Wales are the dozens of castles dotted all around the countryside.
Although they all have their own story, many were built in response to the turbulent political times that Wales was subjected to by the English throughout the Medieval times. Today these castles exist in varying states of repair. Some of have been lovingly cared for by aristocratic owners, others have been allowed to crumble away until all that remains are fragments of the past.
You have to really squint (and imagine) to see what remains of Prestatyn Castle and this is best done from a distance. It is estimated that the castle, now nothing more than a mound on the landscape, was built in 1164 by Norman Robert de Banastre, however, it was swiftly destroyed by Owain Gwynedd just three years later. Whilst there are records of attempts being made to rebuild the stronghold, it was never again returned to its former glory.
Denbigh Castle is one of King Edward I’s ring of castles, a project that he had inherited from his father along with the throne, that still remains in fairly good knick (considering it was built in the late 13th Century). Although a little ramshackle in comparison to the other surviving castles of its period, this is still a historic site well worth a visit. The castle still commands a mighty view across the town of Denbigh and the surrounding landscape, so be prepared for a bit of a hike to the top!
Completed in 1310, this is one of Kind Edward’s best surviving castles and is now owned by the National Trust. In addition to the spectacularly intact castle, visitors can also explore over 5 acres of carefully manicured lawns and gardens. For those looking for an extra bit of adventure, there are over 480 acres of parkland that is free to explore where you’ll be able to spot wild ponies and ancient trees, amongst other flora and fauna.
Castell Dinas Bran
Very little remains of Castle Dinas Bran, but considering that what does remain is likely to be over 700 years old, we can forgive it being a little rough around the edges. Much like Prestatyn Castle, this fortress was the focal point of many battles which eventually led to the destruction of the main structure of the building. Luckily, there still remains some walls and arches which gives visitors a sense of how imposing this castle must have been in its day. There’s a well-marked out path winding its way up to the top of the hill which is handy for families not willing to go cross-country.
Historical documents suggest that this castle was built in the styles of both the Welsh and English. Edward I gifted the lands that the castle lies on to Dafydd ap Gruffyd after he helped capture his brother Llywelyn in the first Welsh campaign (around 1277). Although the castle is built in an essentially Welsh style, there are English features throughout which belie its origins. The castle was ordered to be renovated several times of the years after this, however, the job was never completed and it remained ruinous from the 13th century onwards.