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Mighty fortress evokes the drama of medieval warfare

Denbigh Castle is all about drama. Cross the drawbridge into the triple-towered gatehouse and you’ll hear the portcullis thundering down, chains rattling and the din of horses and marching soldiers.

Don’t be too alarmed. It’s all down to sensors and the wonders of modern technology. But it’s a powerful reminder that this great fortress crowning a rocky outcrop above the Vale of Clwyd played a vital role in the wars that shaped Wales.

It was once the royal residence of Dafydd ap Gruffudd, whose attack on nearby Hawarden Castle provoked the English king Edward I to mount a full-scale invasion. By 1282 Denbigh was the in hands of the king’s commander Henry de Lacy.

He lost no time in building a huge stone fortress with extensive town walls on top of Dafydd’s stronghold. But the Welsh weren’t finished just yet. The half-complete castle was attacked and captured and, by the time they got it back, the English had changed the blueprint.

They made the curtain walls much higher, added the imposing gatehouse and inserted an ingenious ‘sally port’ – a secure secret doorway – so defenders could sneak out in an emergency.

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Travel to Denbigh Castle by train

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Nearest Station: Rhyl

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1min walk to bus stop > 47min bus ride from station > 7min walk to site - view map

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