Chirk Castle - Sarah Woodbury

Chirk Castle

Chirk Castle was begun in 1295 by Roger Mortimer, a younger son within the powerful Mortimer family. Roger, along with his elder brother, Edmund, were the Marcher lords primarily responsible for luring the last Prince of Wales, Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, to his death at Cilmeri in 1282. As reward for this service, King Edward gave the land upon which Chirk was later built to Roger and elevated him to 1st Baron Mortimer of Chirk.

The castle served as one of King Edward’s Iron Ring of Castles encircling north Wales. Chirk guards the entrance to the Ceiriog Valley and is located very close to Offa’s Dyke.

The original construction consisted of a curtain wall with five circular towers, with an offset entrance. Over the centuries, the house continued to be lived in, even after its defenses were no longer necessary. Thus the castle has been renovated many times, both inside and out. While in the 14th century, the lands around the castle were a deer park, these were transformed into gardens starting in the 16th century, and the house itself became a palace.

The owners of Chirk Castle are notable in that five of them were imprisoned or executed for treason. This includes the first builder, Roger, as well as his nephew, also named Roger, who overthrew King Edward II.

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