THE SYMBOL OF A NEW ORDER

Reconstruction drawing of Holt Castle, c. 1325, from the north-east. Artist: Phil Kenning, 2014 ©Wrexham Heritage Service, 2014

Holt Castle is situated on the banks of the River Dee on the England-Wales border. The castle was built between 1283 and 1311 by John de Warenne and his grandson, the seventh and eighth earls of Surrey. 

De Warenne was a friend of Edward I and fought alongside the king of England in his successful military campaign against Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, prince of Wales in 1282–83. 

Edward I rewarded his supporters with lands in north-east Wales and each of these marcher lords built a castle to serve as his power base – these castles survive today at Denbigh, Ruthin, Chirk and Holt.

Edward I granted the lands around Wrexham, the lordship of Bromfield and Yale, to the earl of Surrey on 7th October 1282. The Welsh were not keen on the king’s new regime and they rebelled in 1287. 

During a second uprising in 1294, de Warenne temporarily lost control of his Welsh lands. The continued opposition made the construction of an impregnable castle with good communication links back to England a priority. Holt with its strategic ford across the River Dee was an ideal location for the earl’s Welsh headquarters.


Building Holt Castle was a major construction project. The first reference to Holt Castle (Chastellion) dates to 1311, although there is a mention of castle guard duties in an earlier grant of land by de Warenne in 1308. The 1315 survey of Bromfield and Yale refers to a new castle (castrum novum) – proof that the earls of Surrey intended to hold on to their Welsh property.

Mae Castell Holt wedi ei leoli ar lannau Afon Dyfrdwy ar y ffin rhwng Cymru a Lloegr.  Adeiladwyd y castell rhwng 1283 a 1311 gan John de Warenne a’i ŵyr, sef seithfed ac wythfed iarll Surrey.  

Roedd de Warenne yn gyfaill i Edward I ac yn ymladd ochr yn ochr â brenin Lloegr yn ei ymgyrch filwrol lwyddiannus yn erbyn Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, Tywysog Cymru yn 1282–83. 

Roedd Edward I yn gwobrwyo ei gefnogwyr gyda thiroedd yng ngogledd-ddwyrain Cymru a phob un o’r arglwyddi Mers hyn yn adeiladu castell i wasanaethu fel sylfaen ei rym – mae’r cestyll hyn wedi goroesi hyd heddiw yn Ninbych, Rhuthun, Y Waun a Holt.

Rhoddodd Edward I y tiroedd o amgylch Wrecsam, arglwyddiaeth Bromfield ac Iâl, i iarll Surrey ar 7 Hydref 1282. Nid oedd y Cymry yn hoff iawn o drefn newydd y brenin a gwnaethant wrthryfela yn 1287. 

Yn ystod ail wrthryfel yn 1294, collodd de Warenne reolaeth dros dro ar ei diroedd Cymreig.  Roedd y gwrthwynebiad parhaus yn gwneud y gwaith o adeiladu castell anorchfygol gyda chysylltiadau cyfathrebu da â Lloegr yn flaenoriaeth.  Roedd Holt, gyda’i ryd strategol ar draws yr Afon Dyfrdwy, yn lleoliad delfrydol ar gyfer pencadlys Cymreig yr iarll.

Roedd adeiladu Castell Holt yn brosiect adeiladu mawr iawn.  Mae’r cyfeiriad cyntaf at Gastell Holt (Chastellion) yn dyddio i 1311, er bod sôn am ddyletswyddau gard castell mewn caniatâd cynharach o dir gan de Warenne yn 1308. Mae arolwg 1315 o Bromfield ac Iâl yn cyfeirio at gastell newydd (Castrum novum) – prawf bod ieirll Surrey yn bwriadu dal gafael ar eu heiddo yng Nghymru.

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