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Also known as the Iron Ring of Castles, the Ring of Iron was Edward I of England’s legacy in castle building. The chain of fortifications and castles was built in Wales to control its local population after the death of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd in 1282. The ring consists the Flint Castle, Hawarden Castle, Rhuddlan Castle, Builth Castle, Aberystwyth Castle, Denbigh Castle, Caernarfon Castle, Conwy Castle, Harlech Castle, and Beaumaris Castle.
See the fact file below for more information on Iron Ring of Castles or alternatively, you can download our 31-page Iron Ring of Castles worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
Edwardian Conquest of Wales
- Also known as Edward Longshanks and the Hammer of the Scots, Edward I was the King of England between 1272 and 1307. Edward was the eldest son of Henry III. As a lord, Edward joined the cause of the English barons and rebelled against his father during the First Barons’ War in 1259.
- After he reconciled with his father, Edward remained loyal to the crown.
- While on his way home from the Ninth Crusade, Edward learned about the death of his father in 1272. Two years later, he was crowned at Westminster Abbey as the new king of England.
- In addition to reforming royal administration, Edward I was known for launching a full-scale invasion of Wales in 1276 and 1277.
- Following the conquest of Wales, Edward I took control of Scotland while the kingdom was facing a succession crisis.
- After the Barons’ War, Llywelyn ap Gruffudd was named the Prince of Wales. Even after the 1267 Treaty of Montgomery, armed conflicts in Wales continued. Many lords were dissatisfied with the territories.
- The treaty also stipulated the Anglo-Cambrian terms that required the Welsh prince to pay homage to the king of England. Llywelyn’s refusal to pay homage, the internal skirmishes within Wales, and Llywelyn’s plan to marry Eleanor, daughter of Simon de Montfort, provoked the English invasion.
- In November 1276, the war between Edward I and Llewelyn was declared. After a series of encounters, the prince of Wales surrendered and signed the Treaty of Aberconwy that guaranteed peace in Gwynedd.
- In addition to the concession of territories, the treaty also forced Llywelyn to acknowledge Edward I. However, another war broke out again in 1282. Dafydd’s (Llywelyn’s brother) discontent over the lands granted by Edward and the imposition of the English law over the Welsh people sparked a rebellion.
- Along with several Welsh princes and leaders, including Llywelyn, Dafydd led a rebellion for the independence of northern Wales. For Edward I, it was an opportunity of conquest.
- In response, Edward I launched a three-prong invasion of Wales led by Roger Mortimer and Gilbert de Clare.
- In December 1282, Llywelyn was killed at the Battle of Orewin Bridge. In 1283, Daffyd was captured and executed. The defeat of the Welsh people marked Edward I’s conquest of Wales.
- In addition to the establishment of English towns such as Flint, Aberystwyth, and Rhuddlan, Edward I sponsored massive castle-building with master architect James of Saint George.
Castles of the Iron Ring, in approximate order of building.
- Flint Castle (1277)
- Hawarden Castle (1277)
- Rhuddlan Castle (1277)
- Builth Castle (1277)
- Aberystwyth Castle (1277) 6 = Denbigh Castle (1283)
- Caernarfon Castle (1283)
- Conwy Castle (1283)
- Harlech Castle (1283)
- Beaumaris Castle 1295)
- Edward I’s primary intention in fortifying Wales was to secure an outpost and control for England. In addition to castles, fortified towns were also built to house English immigrants.
- The first castle of the Iron Ring was the Flint Castle, which was constructed between 1277 and 1284. The castle was based on the Savoyard model design which had an inner ward, a separate keep, three large towers, and an outer bailey.
- Located in Northeast Wales, Flint Castle was overseen by James of Saint George.
- The outer bailey of the castle had a fortified plantation town.
- Built by Hugh Earl of Chester, the Hawarden Castle was an early motte-and-bailey castle.
- The castle overlooked the route from Chester into North Wales.
- Prior to the Normans, the site was settled by the Anglo-Saxons.
- After the Second War of Welsh Independence, James of St. George added more elaborate internal design.
- The construction of the Rhuddlan Castle was completed in 1282 and was concurrently built with Flint Castle.
- In the 1270s, the construction of the Rhuddlan Castle was costly. It was a concentric castle with a unique diamond layout.
- It has twin-tower gatehouses, an inner ward, a curtain wall with small towers and turrets, and an outer bailey. The inner ward consisted of a kitchen, a chapel, and the Great Hall.
- Erected in 1277, the Builth Castle was left unfinished in 1282 due to a lack of funds. In 1301, Edward I gave the castle to his son, Edward, who later gifted it to his wife, Isabella.
- In 1277, the earlier motte and bailey castle was rebuilt by Edward I as the Aberystwyth Castle. This concentric castle has a diamond-shaped inner ward. Its outer ward was described with a twin D-shaped gatehouse and a large curtain wall.
- Following Edward I’s conquest, he granted the lordship of Denbigh to Henry de Lacy, Earl of Lincoln. Along with the construction of a castle, de Lacy oversaw the construction of a walled town for English immigrants.
- The construction of the Denbigh Castle was completed in 1311. It was located above the Clwyd valley overlooking the walled town. It has a huge gatehouse formed from a triangle of octagonal towers, mural towers, and a curtain wall.
- In 1283, Edward I replaced the original motte and bailey castle with its current stone structure.
- The Caernarfon Castle was built along with town walls. In July 1283, Edward and his wife, Eleanor of Castile, stayed at Caernarfon for over a month.
- The castle has a water gate, wards, the Great Hall, kitchen, King’s Gate, Queen’s Gate, and numerous towers. On April 25, 1282, Edward II was born at Caernarfon Castle. By 1301, he was named as the Prince of Wales.
- By 1330, the castle was one of the most expensive and impressive fortifications of the century. With between £20,000 and £25,000 spent on the construction, it was more costly than the Dover Castle and Chateau Gaillard.
- Also located in North Wales, the Conwy Castle was built between 1283 and 1292.
- Built on top of a rock promontory, the castle had round massive towers, a double bailey, and outer barbican walls and towers.
- In the 14th century, the castle served as a refuge for Richard II of England during his fight against Henry IV of England.
- The construction of the Harlech Castle began in 1283 and was completed in 1290. Some additions were also included until 1330. The castle was a perfect example of a concentric medieval castle built on the most strategic location – on top of a rock with access to a small port.
- It was built from local grey-green sandstone, while the yellow sandstone was used for decorations.
- It has circular towers that guarded the inner ward that contains a chapel, kitchen, granary, the Great Hall, and service buildings.
- It has two huge D-shaped defensive towers protecting the entrance and at least two heavy doors at the gatehouse.
- In 1295, the construction of the Beaumaris Castle began, but it was not fully completed.
- The castle was built on a marsh, 1 mile or 1.6 km from Llanfaes. Similar to the town plan of Conwy, the castle was positioned in one corner.
- In 1296, the construction was halted by Edward I’s costly war with Scotland. By 1306, the threat of a Scottish invasion of northern Wales led to the completion of the Beaumaris Castle’s outer defenses. Over the next decades, the castle was not completed due to a lack of resources.
- Historians suggest that if the construction was completed, it would have been very similar to the Harlech Castle.
- Both are concentric castles with walls within walls. It was regarded as the castle with the most perfect and symmetrical concentric planning.
- It was built from a mixture of limestone, sandstone, and green schists.
- Edward I’s iron ring of castles were all located in North Wales due to internal and external threats.
- Historians suggest that it was Europe’s most ambitious and costly medieval building project.
According to UNESCO, 2013, “Beaumaris, Conwy, Caernarfon and Harlech are the finest examples of late 13th– and early 14th-century military architecture in Europe.”
Iron Ring of Castles Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle that includes everything you need to know about Iron Ring of Castles across 31 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Iron Ring of Castles which was a chain of fortifications and castles that were built in Wales to control its local population after the death of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd in 1282.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Iron Ring of Castles Worksheets
- Edward Longshanks
- Concentric Castle
- The Iron Ring of Castles
- Top of the List
- Choose Two!
- Label Me!
- Examine the Map
- Wales Today
- Ring or Iron
- Be Like Edward
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Link will appear as Iron Ring of Castles Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, October 14, 2021
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