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Ruthin Castle Upper Bailey

Photographs and text copyright by John Northall

 

The western drum tower, like the revetment walls, was built from large blocks of red sandstone and this gave the castle its Welsh name of Castell Coch - Red Castle. The tower is solid up to the level of the courtyard floor, which is where the lighter coloured stone has been used at a later date. In the foreground, high up amongst the ivy, can be seen the fighting platform above the west gate. A passageway floor leading from the portcullis chamber beneath it runs towards the camera along the wall.
This is the highest piece of curtain wall still standing around the upper bailey. It overlooks the deep inner moat between the two baileys and, for a short section, seems to be complete up to the level of the wallwalk but with all traces of battlements removed. The doorway at the bottom left of the picture leads onto the wooden bridge across the inner moat. The aperture has been roughly hacked through the nine-foot thickness of the wall and is not original.
An 'Italian Garden' was laid out within the upper bailey in the 19th century and this part of it is on the site of the great hall. The high wall to the left of the picture was probably built at the same time and is the inner wall of the covered 'Ladies Walk' along the western edge of the castle. The wall within the foliage to the right is thought to be an original part of the hall.
The thin outer wall of the Ladies Walk was built where the western side of the hall once stood. It is pierced by a number of windows that appear to have been reused from the original building, and they allow a fine view over the moat towards the Clwyd valley.
The northwestern tower and its adjacent stretch of revetment wall have been robbed of their finely dressed sandstone. The tower was once much higher than it is today as only the solid base remains. The stonework above floor level has almost all been removed for use elsewhere. The depth of the western moat can just be made out to the right of the picture.
A doorway still exists in a stump of masonry between the northwestern tower and the courtyard to the right. It was probably the ground-level entrance to the tower.
Under a dense covering of ivy at the end of the wooden fence, the shape of the much reduced round north tower can just be made out. Stairs within the tower can be entered from the apex of the enclosure and they lead down to a doorway that gave access to the moat. To the right is the wall towards the northwestern tower and to its left is the wall towards the main gatehouse. The moat between here and the main gate has been filled in.
This is revetment wall in the moat between the main gate and the southeastern corner of the upper bailey. The moat remains deep and wide at this point and the customary sandstone blocks are still in good condition. Just beyond this point, hidden in the undergrowth, there are the remains of a masonry feature that once jutted out into the moat. A turret, perhaps, that may have contained another way down into the moat?

 

CONTINUE the tour of the upper bailey by looking at the main gatehouse page
Follow this link for a reconstruction drawing, description and site plan of Ruthin (main page)
Follow this link to see a timeline for Ruthin Castle
View the Lower Bailey page
View Mr Northall's other contributions to the Castles of Wales web site

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Copyright 2009 by John Northall and the Castles of Wales Website