Flint Castle

Work on this, the first castle built by Edward during his conquest of Wales, commenced on Sunday 25 July 1277. The origins of the name "Flint" or Le Flynt as it was once known has been debated. At the end of 1277 it begins to appear in the Royal letters as 'le caillon' (the pebble), a name not infrequently used on the French coast for isolated rocks. A writer in 'Bygones' also says that the original word was Llyn-dinas - the lake fortress - corrupted in Flyn-dinas and shortened to 'flynd' and sharpened to Flint. The name is probably Old English or Old French, 'flint' was used for any hard stone or rock, a reference to the low sandstone hillock now below the castle, which must have been one of the few landmarks jutting into the otherwise featureless salt marshes. The castle was built on the rock and joined by a drawbridge to the town. The town was built in the form of a Roman encampment, with two massive ditches, earthen banks and wooden ramparts, and four regular ports. This was the castrum and town `apud le flynt', or 'at the rock' `flint' being commonly used in medieval English in speaking of any kind of rock. Edward 1 was determined to enforce English kings' claims to primacy in the British Isles. The first part of his reign was dominated by Wales. At that time, Wales consisted of a number of disunited small Welsh princedoms; the South Welsh princes were in uneasy alliance with the Marcher lords (feudal earldoms and baronies set up by the Norman kings to protect the English border against Welsh raids) against the Northern Welsh based in the rocky wilds of Gwynedd, under the strong leadership of Llewelyn ap Gruffydd, Prince of Gwynedd. In 1247, under the Treaty of Woodstock, Llewelyn had agreed that he held North Wales in fee to the English king. However, Llewelyn maintained that the rights of his principality were 'entirely separate from the rights' of England; he did not attend Edward's coronation and refused to do homage. By 1272, Llewelyn had taken advantage of the English civil wars to consolidate his position, and the Peace of Montgomery (1267) had confirmed his title as Prince of Wales and recognised his conquests. Soon after his magnificent coronation in Westminster Abbey in 1274, Edward 1 inaugurated immense preparations, both military and maritime, for the complete subjugation of the Welsh princes and the hitherto indomitable people of Wales. Finally, in 1277 Edward decided to fight Llewelyn 'as a rebel and disturber of the peace'. In July 1277 he summoned a great assembly of his barons and vassals and their retainers in Chester; and following that concourse he advanced from there at the head of a massive army into Wales crossing the Dee estuary at Shotwick ford and set up his headquarters at Basingwerk and quickly defeated him.

War broke out again in 1282 when Llewelyn joined his brother David in rebellion. Several authors say that Flint was one of the first English targets to be attacked by the Welsh and that they captured and pillaged the then half finished castle. Edward's determination, military experience and skilful use of ships brought from England for deployment along the North Welsh coast, drove Llewelyn back into the mountains of North Wales. The death of Llewelyn in a chance battle in 1282 and the subsequent execution of his brother David effectively ended attempts at Welsh independence.

There was in existence a ford across the River Dee where the ruins of the Flint castle now stand, which could be crossed at low tide, and to secure this vulnerable and strategically important passage Edward decided to build his fortress there, one days march from Chester.. There were 2 small communities in the area at the time, Radington and Ondeston, which were in the ancient parish of Northop in the commote of Coleshill. It is built on a low promontory of sandstone rock. The decision to build a castle on the banks of the River Dee was also partly to do with its location one days march from Chester, the river to bring supplies, and the woods to provide the materials necessary. Most of supplies came by sea, and Edward brought with him 1,130 workmen and 340 skilled woodmen for felling trees and clearing the route for the progress of his army through the densely wooded and hostile country. Edward had scoured all England for skilled craftsmen and they were sent, most of them reluctant, into North Wales, 'Guarded by mounted Sergeants lest they flee on the way'. Work on this, the first castle built by Edward during his conquest of Wales, commenced on Sunday 25 July 1277 and pressed on with great speed under the personal supervision of the King. By the end of August, £922.11.8 1/2d. had been spent on building costs, a tremendous sum in those times and but a fraction of the total expenditure. The great number of dykers employed, 1,160 were mentioned at one time, indicates the importance of the ditch in the fortification, especially in the early stages, and the great extent the ditches had to be dug. For Edward was founding not only a castle, but also a totally new town, the whole of which needed defensive ditches. The original medieval street plan is still clearly visible at Flint. The Castle took approximately eight years to complete, costing around six thousand pounds. Though work on the Donjon roof was not completed until 1301/2 when the wooden roof was installed. The site chosen was a small rocky platform extending about 50 yards into the channel of the river Dee and partly or wholly covered at every high tide. In plan the castle is an almost perfect square with one corner cut off, having three three-quarter engaged towers and one separate tower at the several corners. The inner ward measures 160 feet by 145 feet and is about half an acre in area. The curtain walls are aligned nearly to the cardinal points. The distinguishing feature of the castle of Flint is unquestionably the south-eastern tower. While forming part of the constructive scheme of the castle, this tower is not fitted into the structure of the fortress, as are the towers at the other three corners of the quadrangle. It stands at the south-east corner, but a little outside it, the southern and eastern curtains avoiding it by a sweeping inward curve.

About 21st July 1277, an army of soldiers, and another of wood-cutters and building workers from midland England, who had converged on Chester, moved forward to Flint. By this time it is assumed that Llywelyn's castle at Ewloe had fallen to the English, and was never again to be used as a fortified stronghold. Meanwhile, timber had been cut in the king's Cheshire woods, and in his brothers forest of Toxteth. It was brought to Flint, much of it on newly-made rafts, and a wooden palisade was raised. The site of Flint Castle was selected for the first field headquarters, because it was about a days march along the ancient Roman road from Chester, and because of its accessibility to sea-going ships. Beyond Flint, another days journey away, lay Rhuddlan. There, the old Norman castle still survived as a major earthwork, and it was now to become the site of a great stone fortification. More specifically, the situation of Flint was determined by the location of a promontory of rock situated in an otherwise marshy estuary. Like all the other new towns and castles built for Edward I in Wales during subsequent years, the accessibility of Flint by sea as well as land, reduced the chances of a successful siege in times of war. The name Le Flynt for this virgin site may simply refer to its rocky nature in an otherwise marshy area, but it should not be overlooked that Edward I incorporated symbolism into many of his castles. It has been suggested that the name Le Flynt may have been an allusion to Edward's intention to strike a spark of fire whose flames would consume Llewelyn. The first construction workforce at Flint included nine hundred and seventy diggers, plus many more late-comers, including three hundred from the Lincolnshire fens who had been escorted by three mounted soldiers to prevent their desertion en route. By the end of August 1277, the digging force numbered two thousand, three hundred men. At first there were also three hundred woodcutters and three hundred and thirty carpenters. Within a month, having completed the necessary temporary buildings, most of them moved on to the next camp at Rhuddlan. They cut back the woods beside the route as they went, thereby reducing potential cover for any Welsh attack on further supply trains. The enormous force of navvies assembled at Flint was needed to dig a defensive ditch around the site selected for the new castle and town. The diggers worked with all speed, collecting performance pay with bonuses for good work and deductions for absenteeism. With the bulk of the work completed, most of the diggers moved on. Burgage plots in the town for new settlers were being granted by February 1278, and by 1292, there were seventy-four such settlers or burgesses in Flint wealthy enough to be taxed. Among those landlords holding plots was the kings tailor, who had been responsible for much of the provisioning for the royal forces. Others included several of the building masters who had been engaged on building the castle. In August 1277, two hundred masons were on Edwards payroll at Flint. Some quickly moved on to other royal works, but many stayed behind to begin building the castle proper. They used material obtained from the ditches cut into the sandstone underlying the site, as well as some ten thousand stones ferried from a quarry near Shotwick across the River Dee. The end of the war, and the signing of the Treaty of Aberconwy in November 1277, by no means brought the work to a halt. Both the castle and town at Flint went on to become a permanent fortified base. Plumbers were roofing two castle towers with lead in 1278, possibly the small towers of the outer gate, which was certainly completed before 1281. Although some diggers and carpenters remained on the payroll at Flint in 1278 and 1279, most of the expenditure in these years went on the wages of quarry workers. They were preparing thirty-six thousand stones at the Nesshead quarry on the Wirral, with twenty masons laying 200ft (61m) of wall in the late 1279 building season. There is no record of payments to masons during 1280, but a new lime-kiln was constructed and the main programme of building at Flint Castle was about to be resumed.

In 1278, King Edward had brought over a master mason from Savoy, on the French border with Switzerland and Italy, called James of St. George. Having carried out tours of inspection of other royal works in Wales, Master James appears at the head of the masons' payroll at Flint in November 1280. His name remained there for seventeen months, at a rate of two shillings per day. Indeed, Master James lasting connection with the work at Flint is also indicated by the grant to him of the nearby manor of Mostyn in 1295.

A large amount of stone dressing was carried out at Flint during the winter of 1280-81, and the number of masons at Flint rose sharply to an average of one hundred and ninety during the 1281 season. They were engaged upon cutting stones for special requirements, including window heads and spiral staircases, and building eight arrow slit embrasures. A new revetment was constructed, and a crane was used to raise floor joists into the tower towards the sea, work that was to continue in to the next year. Two towers stood incomplete, and their wall-tops were covered with straw as a protection against frost damage during the winter of 1281-82. Very large stocks of lime, for mortar, were paid for in preparation for the 1282 building season. Stones for the Great Tower doorways, well shaft, and pillars were then being cut, but the walls of this tower had to be thatched against frost in later years.

The castle is constructed of sand stone brought over from the quarry of Ness on the Wirral by raft, the first order being for 10,000 blocks for setting out the foundations of the towers and walls of the castle the order placed on the 10th August, which took 250 rafts to bring them across the river. The fine sand stone blocks were precisely cut and expertly put together. Many mason marks can be found on the stonework, 43 in all, used by the craftsmen to identify their work. Records exist of payments made to individual masons who specialised in various techniques, for example John White, a London mason who was brought to Flint to do the concave stonework of the two wells and the basement of the North East Tower. Not only was work carried out on the new castle, but an entirely new town, was also erected. English traders were encouraged to settle in the town, with at least at first this privilege denied the Welsh. Flint was publicised in Lancashire, Nottinghamshire and Worcestershire with settlers offered burgages of up to 1000 sq. yards in the town and 40 acres outside, free of tax for their lifetime. Despite these enticements growth was small. Flint did not expand beyond the old walls until the 19th century. Flint became the county town, though under the Justice of Chester. Such fortified towns served their king well. They were useful administrative centres from which the king would receive revenue and retain control over the citizenry of the region. While not the largest and most magnificent of the Edwardian castles in Wales, Flint Castle is unique among other castles in Britain and remarkable for the Great Tower or Donjon, which resembles the fortification of the Tour de Constance at Aigues Mortes in Provence. During his journeying to the Crusades and his sojourn in France before his accession Edward had become acquainted with the deliberately planned towns and bastides of southern France and the Crusaders castles, and he resolved to adopt features of these fortifications in the plans for his fortresses to secure the suppression of Wales. The idea for the dungeon may have come from Master James of St. George, the Minister of the King's Works in Wales, who appears to have originated from Savoy but the castle was built by Richard L'Engenour, who became Mayor of Chester in 1304. The construction of the castle and the town defences was not completed until 1286 at a cost of £6068.7.5d. There were two building periods during the construction of the castle, at first in 1277 the masonry was of good quality but by about 1282 the stonework although still effective was rougher and not so finely finished. This could be due to the Treaty made with Llewelyn which made the castle for a time unnecessary but after the rebellion in 1282 work recommenced and the castle completed. Ironically, the mighty fortress did little to deter Welsh revolt, and in 1282 the castle was besieged by Dafydd ap Gruffydd, brother of Llewelyn ap Gruffydd who immediately joined the foray. The Welsh uprising provoked a second great castle-building effort by King Edward I, and by the end of the year the Welsh were effectively subdued, Llewelyn ap Gruffydd was killed in December at Cilmeri near Builth Wells, and Dafydd taken prisoner the following June. There was an attempt to seize the castle in September 1294 when there was a revolt in North Wales led by Madog and when the English constable Sir Edward de Laye deliberately burned the town to prevent the capture of the castle by the Welsh. Extensive repairs were then made to restore the castle to its prior condition.

Following the revolt, and even as building was progressing on the three new strongholds, more work was done on the town ditches at Flint, including repairs after the fire damage of 1282. The masons working on the castle were finally paid off at Martinmas 1284. It was at this time too, that the new shire county of Flint was established under the Statute of Wales. Finally, metal fittings and carpentry for the castle, including the bridge between the castle and the town, together with the roofing of the Great Tower in lead, were paid for in 1286.
Although it is difficult to be precise, altogether about £7,000 had been spent on the town and castle defences of Flint, mainly in the years 1277, 1279, 1281 and 1282. A further revolt in 1294-95 was to test the effectiveness of all of Edwards Welsh castles. In the autumn of 1294, the constable of Flint Castle, Sir Edward de Laye, who also served as mayor of the borough, burnt the town to deny shelter and provisions to the Welsh attacking force which was laying siege to the castle, a not unusual tactic of warfare through to more modern times.
In 1301, Flint Castle passed to Edward of Caernarfon, Earl of Chester, who was later to become King Edward II. Over the next two years, works amounting to some £146 were undertaken at the castle. The most significant item in the expenditure was the building of a large timber structure, surmounted by a singularly beautiful wooden gallery circling the top of the Great Tower. Its construction seems to have involved the complete re-roofing of the tower in lead. Carpenters were engaged to make a new bridge and were hanging window shutters in the battlements of the inner ward. Following this work however, little further building is recorded at Flint apart from regular maintenance. Items which stand out include the repair of the palisade on the outer bailey in 1328, with its parapet completed in 1337, and a new hall built 'for hearing pleas before the kings justices' in 1382. The town was attacked in 1400 during the war against Owain Glyndwr and again in 1403 when the town was all but destroyed and the burgesses had to withdraw into the relative safety of the castle. In 1403 the garrison was increased to 120 men whilst the normal garrison was only 2 men-at-arms and 8 archers. These later items of expenditure are a reminder that through the 14th century the castle continued to be maintained in good order, serving as an administrative and financial centre for the county of Flint. Justice was dispensed from the site, and occasionally it served as a base for the assembly of troops. The county itself was governed as an administrative annex of the palatinate of Chester.

The castle consisted of a rectangular enclosure with three circular towers at the northeast, northwest and southwest corners and an off set tower, the Donjon. The castle embraced a square area of about half an acre. There were two wells, one in the Donjon and the other in the inner bailey. The donjon tower was used as the residence for the Constable of the castle. The tower was also used as the last means of defence should the castle come under siege and as a flanking tower to defend the entrance to the inner bailey, which it commanded. There has been some reflection as to the purpose of the Donjon. The basement with its open central space communicating through wide archways with a broad circular vaulted gallery can only have been intended for storage, most probably stores which would have been required to support an advancing army from Chester. Square in design, Flint Castle had round angle towers at three corners and a huge donjon the keep, at the fourth. To the north and east, the waters of the Dee estuary rose close to the castle's base, however, on the opposite side, the landward, ditching and an outer bailey were constructed. The ditch, with its stone revetment once held the tidal waters of the Dee. Entry to the castle was through a square tower with a gateway and portcullis by way of a drawbridge across a ditch, originally about 20 feet deep, which separated the south curtain wall and the southwest tower from the outer bailey, and would have also been filled by the tidal waters of the Dee. The gatehouse into the inner bailey is quite ruined today, but the remains of an archway and the ruins of a porter's lodge are still visible. Inside the gate passage, access to the castle was guarded with heavy double doors and a portcullis, which are indicated by drawbar holes and a groove. The gatehouse leads directly into an enclosure, the inner bailey. Within this enclosure were the domestic buildings, which included a hall, stables, chapel, kitchen, a well, latrines, bake-house, the granary, brew-house and the garrison quarters. Connecting the angle towers and enclosing the inner bailey are the remains of a strong battlemented curtain wall. On the south wall are several strategically placed embrasures facing the outer bailey, a wall-walk connecting the towers, latrines, and, along the southwest and northern sides, modifications for a dock and mooring ships are still visible. Large portions of the wall most likely supported timber buildings; the structures which likewise supported the castle's dwellers no longer survive. Recent investigations have shown that seagoing vessels in medieval times could have sailed up to the side walls of the castle. A wall has been found forming the side of a deep channel leading out towards the Dee below the outer moat. The wall is at least 6 layers of stone in height and is outside the main castle walls. A single section of the town defences, excavated in the area of Duke Walk and Swan Walk towards the south-west end of Duke Street under emergency conditions before the redevelopment of this part of the town in the early 1970s, showed that the town ditch was 16m wide and 3m deep with sloping sides and a flattish bottom about 5m across. Its outer slope had been faced with a spread of hard-packed red-brown clay. The ditch had silted steadily throughout the Medieval period with no sign that it had ever been cleaned out . Nothing had survived of the outer bank at this point but the inner bank, which survived to a height of 0.75 metres, had been about 17 wide at its base, probably having a steep outer face revetted with turf. The inner bank would most probably have been defended by a timber palisade set upon its summit as a protection against arrows, the most potent form of attack at this time, the overall depth of the defences being about 30 to 40 metres. As yet it is unknown whether the town ditch continued across the three entrances, to be crossed by bridges, and whether there were simply gates for protection or whether timber gatehouses were built as seems to be the case at Rhuddlan. The lack of any evidence of ploughing below the excavated section of the inner bank tends to confirm the idea that the town was set out on a largely vacant stretch of land close to the shoreline of the estuary.

The North East Tower had three floors and a basement. The basement being used to keep provisions dry such as wood, clothes, dried fish and barrels of wine. Access to the basement was through a trapdoor. The first floor would have been used by the servants who attended those on the upper floors. The second floor was the principle room of the tower, an irregular hexagon in design. A hooded fireplace kept the inhabitants warm. Two large windows, one with a view of the Wirral and the other with views of the Dee marshes would have had window seats in them. The upper floor would have had a smaller fireplace and served as a bedroom. The battlements would have given commanding views of the area, an excellent vantage point to watch for the enemy approaching from land or sea.
The North West Tower was also of three floors and a basement but of a different design. From the inner bailey of the castle when you enter the tower, a small lobby existed with a spiral staircase to the left, taking you to the upper floors and battlements. Directly in front of you a flight of stairs leads you down to the basement where weapons would have been stored. The basement had two embrasures incorporating arrow slits. A third passageway to the right would have taken you to a flight of stairs leading you to the water gate. This however became obsolete in 1315 when the water started to recede from the castle walls. This tower with its intricate positioning of the arrow slits would have given excellent protection for the many ships docking at the side of the castle. The upper floors are very similar to the North East Tower except for the inclusion of arrow slits instead of windows.

The South West Tower, known as the little tower on the pay documents for the castle, resembling the North West Tower, had both windows and arrow slits overlooking the outer bailey of the castle. Later it was used as a prison for any offenders who were detained at the castle. The South Curtain wall is the best preserved of all, giving a good insight into the overall height of the battlements once existing around the inner bailey. It has a series of four embrasures with arrow slits in addition to the one in the gatehouse. A small gatehouse to the left helped protect both the drawbridge and outer bailey.

LINK TO PANORAMIC VIEW OF FLINT CASTLE (it takes a little while to connect)

Photographs and diagram of North East Tower

Diagram of Donjon Keep

Diagram of Donjon Keep

To view a larger image, click on the photograph you wish to see.

N/West Tower

N/West Tower

Entrance

Entrance

N/East Tower

N/East Tower

Great Donjon

Great Donjon

Great Donjon

Castle Walls

Castle Walls

N/East Tower

Great Donjon

S/West Tower

S/West Tower

Castle Well

Top of Dungeon

Dungeon gallery

Castle Bailey

Castle walls

Top of Dungeon

Top of Dungeon

Top of Dungeon

Bottom of Dungeon

Castle Entrance

Entrance

Great Donjon

Stone Gallery

Stone Gallery

Top of Dungeon

The most impressive building at Flint Castle, and its most unique contribution to castle-building, is the formidable great keep, two storeys high, separated from the rest of the castle and the bailey by its own water-filled ditch (now dry) and stone wall. Within this stronghold, with the stout fortifications which defended the entrance to the inner bailey, the garrison might retire as the final citadel in the defence of the castle. It is unlike any other keep in Britain, for it consists of a series of levels of galleries running around a central open area, created by the 2 concentric walls, six feet thick, comprising between them an open space 20 feet in diameter. Now but an echoing hollow shell of its former might and grandeur, the Great Donjon still remains a fascinating structure of great historic interest to both the architect and the archaeologist; a massive and immensely strong circular tower, two storeys high and connected with the inner bailey by means of a bridge over the moat. Situated on levels above the basement (which probably stored military supplies), each gallery which has a continuous passage, contained several rooms, side by side around the open cylinder, including residential chambers, latrines, the kitchen (probably adjacent to the well), and a chapel. The gallery is lit from the exterior by narrow slits and from the interior only by the four doorways into the enclosure. Consequently it is very dark and though wide and commodious must have been useless as a place of storage even though it is considered by some as the original purpose. Most probably for the kind of stores which in time of war would be more usefully held in advance of Chester, in other words the arms and armour, ammunition and clothing. In the inner side of this passage there are three arched openings leading down steps to a small circular chamber. The arches of these openings were in the form of stepped vaults. In the outer part of the wall of the passage opposite the openings are three embrasures containing arrow slits which commanded the sea coast, the outer bailey and town and the entrance to the castle. Between these embrasures also in the outer wall are the chutes from the garderobes or latrines on the upper floor. In the passage against the southern opening is the well and this had an arrangement for the extension of its shaft through the vault of the passage so that access could be had to it from the upper floor. The central circular chamber was 23 feet in diameter and was in two storeys. The first floor was planned as a self-contained apartment with four small intercommunicating segment-shaped rooms and a chapel all built round an open light well. Evidently, the uppermost level was eventually provided with the most complete and elaborate furnishings, a lead roof and wooden platform. The upper floor contained several well-lighted rooms which were doubtlessly the principal chambers and the state apartments. These had fireplaces set into chimney-pieces built into the walls, and glazed windows and would have been richly appointed, with floor coverings and wall-tapestries and reasonably free of draughts and smoke. There was a central apartment circular or possibly octagonal, either lighted from above or by borrowed light from the chambers which surrounded it. One of these chambers was a chapel. Next to this was a good sized room overlooking the shore; next the chamber from the floor of which the well was reached, perhaps the kitchen; then comes a garderobe chamber, followed by another good sized room which had stone ribs to support the roof. It is likely that a conical roof pierced to admit light covered the central room. The great keep was a well-defended structure, surrounded by a deep ditch, and accessed only from the inner bailey across a drawbridge. Walls were dressed with smooth stone, and were tremendously thick, more so at the base (some 23 feet wide) than the crown, and contained arrow slit embrasures. Entry into the central area can be gained by more than one route, however, the visitor is naturally drawn to proceed downwards into the basement. It seems that this downward approach was intentionally created as a way to move intruders into a more vulnerable spot within the tower, the basement level, a location into which defenders could quickly converge from the upper gallery levels. There are mason marks in the tower. When the castle was built very few people could read or write so each mason had his own mark to show which stones he had built in the wall and therefore he could be paid for his work.
Outside the high and massive castle walls, the streets of the evolving town were laid out to a pattern as regular as any designed by town planners in Roman times. This rigid plan remained, together with vestiges of the double defence of bank and ditches, which encircled the town, until the extensive redevelopment in the mid-twentieth century, and only the main street survived. Flint Castle changed hands several times during the Civil War surrendering finally in 1646. Parliament voted that it be dismantled and this was done so well that in 1652 it was described as almost buried in its own ruins.

When we think of Flint Castle we of course think of the masonry castle standing by the side of the Dee. But there have been other structures in the area over the years. A mound called Cae'r Mount is thought to have existed near Mount Place on Chester Road. This is believed to have been a temporary castle built by the deputy of Hugh, the Earl of Chester about 1100. Another mound was destroyed during the building of the railway about 1847 which was thought to have been built to protect the builders of the castle. Between Northop Road and Halkyn Road, about a mile out of Flint is a large motte, over 180 feet in diameter and 35 feet high, with a summit diameter of 45 feet, called Bryn y Cwn. This mound is placed just below the ridge of a gentle slope and about 200 yards east of a farm house of the same name. The summit was circular, with a diameter averaging 60 feet. The mound fades gently into the slope on every side; it is about 30 feet high and covered with trees. It was once surrounded by a ditch and outer bank but these have been removed on the north and northeast; on the other sides the ditch varies in width from 18 feet to under 6 feet and the outer bank from 4 to 12 feet. The mound presents every appearance of one of the motte and bailey type which has lost its exterior defences. It is near to primary castle size but there is no documented evidence. Pennant says it stands on the 'Hills of Dogs' and possibly might have been a hunting seat. Another suggestion is that it was Norman associated with their advance into Wales from Chester about 1072. Between the Ffrith and Bryn Tirion about a mile to the west of Flint is a motte. There might have been a medieval route to mining or other settlements in the area worth protecting. The mound is 18 feet tall, with a 25 foot diameter. Nearby is Hen Blas in Bagillt which could have been a welsh castle similar to Ewloe but smaller, originally a motte and bailey castle, later with a stone structure, perhaps originally 12th century, though it is also believed to have been a Welsh royal castle and the birthplace of Welsh princes including David, brother of Llewellyn ap Iorwerth about 1208 and to have been occupied from the 12th to the14th century. It could also be the ancient Dinas Basi, the scene of the death of Cenwulf of Mercia in 821. It is at the intersection of two steep valleys and shows, by the earthworks which remain, that it once had an inner ward and a large outer enclosure, a formation perhaps developed from a very early motte and bailey castle. Excavations concluded in 1957 demonstrated that an earthwork castle was replaced by a 'fortified manor house' in the early 13th century, itself abandoned in the late 14th century. There was a chapel here at Coleshill in the 12th century which is thought to have been the Chapel of Basingwerk and when the monks moved to Greenfield, to Basingwerk Abbey, they took the name with them. We must not forget Llys Edwin, near to the Welsh Horticultural College in Northop. Prior to the Norman conquest, the district was in the hands of Edwin, the last Earl of Mercia. The house at that time was the seat of Edwin ap Gronw and who was married to a relative of the Earl. The house had a 26 foot moat and 26 foot outer bank and was surrounded by an oaken palisade. Foundations of c13 square moated area have been found, largely palisaded, but with a stone block in one corner with a hall and towers, one being large and stout with associated fishponds. The house was rebuilt several times in the following centuries and was destroyed probably in the first half of the 14th century. It is thought to have been the seat of the Welsh chieftain Edwin of Tegeingl from whom many of the principal families of Flintshire deduce their origin.

Plan of Flint Castle
Diagram of Flint drawn by John Speed in 1610

View of Flint drawn by Miss Sidney Massey in 1826