Chirk Castle - built to defend

Illustration of Chirk Castle c1310 © National Trust

Illustration of Chirk Castle c1310

Started in 1295 Chirk Castle was one of several medieval fortresses on the Welsh-English border, designed to keep the Welsh under English rule.

Modern defences

The castle had the most up-to-date defences for the time with round towers that allowed archers a wide firing field.

Thicker at ground level the towers were designed to splay outwards making it difficult for siege towers and battering rams to attack

Originally the castle consisted of four corner towers joined by a narrow curtain wall, with half towers in the middle of each side.

The guards lived inside the towers which only had connecting passageways on the top floors, meaning each tower would have to be fought over and taken separately by attackers.

Murder most horrid

The internal design of the towers was carefully planned, entrance ways have hidden 'murder holes' and barricade points.

Murder holes enabled the men inside to drop stones or fire arrows down on invaders. Many were sneakily hidden so would have been a nasty surprise.

The holes were on every floor so the fight for each tower would have been difficult and deadly. Murder holes are still visible in the Adam Tower so watch out when you visit.

Keeping a watchful eye

Chirk Castle would've stood out prominently in the landscape, especially looking from Wales.

Trees would've  been kept clear and it's highly likely the castle would've been lime washed white.

The top watch towers allowed lookouts to keep a strategic eye on the Welsh hills and valleys.

The castle was a symbol of English power and might controlling the border and dominating the surrounding land.