Overshadowed by its larger and more celebrated sisters to the west, Flint Castle stands at the eastern doorway into North Wales. The encroachment of the industrialized city and the sandy marshes of the Dee Estuary give Edward I’s stronghold an image of desolation and solitude, and remind us of the stark contrast between our modern world and the Middle Ages. Rarely recognized for its unique contribution to castle-building as well as Britain’s history, this marvelous structure awaits your discovery and careful exploration.
There is much to see at Flint Castle, if you look closely – views across the estuary bring us in contact with England, and the Wirral; the remains of the outer ditch, revetted with stonework, can be followed along the road before the castle, and, with a little imagination, can be quite easily reconstructed in your mind’s eye; the waters of the adjoining estuary once ran up to the slopes of the castle’s bailey, covering the car park, and would have provided an excellent defensive barrier; the great keep, or donjon, is a remarkable structure, unlike any other in Britain; and, most interesting, the scratches of mason’s marks can be detected on stone blocks throughout the castle. While Flint Castle is under the care of CADW: Welsh Historic Monuments, it is freely open to the public, which not only makes it available for visiting at virtually any moment, but also makes it vulnerable to vandalism. Flint Castle needs our special attention. It is a masterful work of architectural genius that gives tribute to Edward I’s master mason, James of St. George, and deserves the attention given to its greater sisters – Caernarfon, Conwy, Harlech, and Beaumaris – the “Big Four” in the northwest.