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place which he has provided as a gift1 near Rothelan ; and therefore the King commands that, giving up the first place which he began to fortify by his order, he cause the new place to be fortified."
For some time past these ruins have puzzled several people, and having myself a suspicion of them being those of a castle, at least the commencement of one, requested a military friend to make for me a rough scale drawing. The result was completely successful, so far as my requirements went. There were evidences of an unfinished building, masons' marks, an angular tower, between which and a circular tower was the gateway, a south wall, and a well. There are, however, no indications of a north wall, which, if they had been carried out, would have been built up or across a considerable rise of rocky hill. This could have been done, and prevented any military mining on that side from being carried out by an enemy. On the south side are several springs, which would probably have been taken advantage of to form a moat; otherwise, from a military point of view, the position is bad. In the immediate vicinity are several mounds, and although some of them are the results of lead mining, others are clearly connected with the ruin2 and for purposes of defence, with the vallum on the inside.
Comparison with the scale drawings of both the
1 This is curious, for ten years afterwards, on May 14th, 35 Hen. III (1251) the Justice of Chester was commanded to assign ten acres of land to Gronow Jareford, son of Gronow, and his brothers, in recompense for their land taken in the construction of Dissard Castle. (Close Rolls, 35 Hen. III.) This instance does not stand alone, for in 1281 the men of Flint complained of their land being taken to build the Castle, and although the Justiciary of Chester had received the Royal mandate "to grant them remuneration of ground equal in goodness and quality," they did not receive in lieu thereof either land or money. Powell, 36; Parry's Flint Castles, 27.
2 Advantage had been taken of the foundations to build a house. It was standing sixty-two years ago (1850), and occupied twenty years previously.
Rough Sketch of Foundations, Dyserth Castle. Old and New Site
B. Banks of loose stone and earth, 18 in. to 2 ft. thick.
F. Fragments of masonry above ground.
G. Ground rises sharply, and commands ruins at 60 ft. distance.
H. Indication of mason's mark.
I. Small quarry, new.
"first" and the "new place" show that the same plans and measurements were adopted in both instances, and despite the characteristics of the L'Estrange family to be "opposite," the second site was certainly a manifest improvement on the first. The Justices of Chester overlooked for the King all matters in Chester and Flintshire, but in the case of Rhuddlan and Dyserth the castles appear to have been under the charge of Richard de Alencum. John L'Estrange was appointed Justice of Chester on December 6th, 1240, and further appointed to Dyserth (from Ditton) on March 30th, 1242. Seven days earlier (March 23rd, 1242) the King, who was then at Bromholme, issued a mandate "to the knights and serjeants in the munition of the castles of Rothelan and Beeston (sic) de Rupe; (a palpable error for Dyserth), to come to the King, except those whom J. L'Estrange, Justice of Chester, thinks should be retained in that munition."
An "acknowledgment of the surrender by Richard de Alencum,5 on Monday, the morrow of Mid-Lent, of the castles of Rothelan and of the Rock of Rothelan (de Rupe de Rothelan), and of his delivery thereof by order of the King to John L'Estrange, Justice of Chester, to keep during pleasure," was duly made at Ditton on March 30th, 1242, the same date as that on which John L'Estrange took full charge.
During the building operations, provision was made for any sudden attack by the Welsh, in a Mandate issued by the King, from Marlborough, on July 13th,
"To the Barons, Knights, and others, of the Coun
1 Made by Lieut.-Col. T. A. Glenn for the writer of this article. 2 Made by Mr. Leonard Hughes, R.C.A., for Chester Arch. Journal, v, 377.
3 Cal. Pat. Rolls, 26 Hen. III.
4 The building of Beeston Castle was commenced in 1225, seventeen years previously.-Ann. Cest., 75.
5 Cal. Pat. Rolls, 26 Hen. III.
That is, Dyserth Castle.
7 Cal. Pat. Rolls, Hen. III.
ties of Chester, Salop, and Stafford, to come in force, when summoned on the King's behalf, by John L'Estrange, to defend the King's lieges of Wales, against attack."
"Letters Patent" concerning Dyserth Castle had been previously issued on the 10th May, 1238, in the following terms:-"The King: To the Barons, Knights, and Freemen of the City of Chester. GREETING. Know ye that the aforesaid Earldom of Chester, together with our castles of Gannock and Dincolyn, in Wales, and all things to the same appertaining, we have_commanded to be retained, in our bounds, as always belonging to our Crown. AND that there may be manifest proof to you that the said Earldom, without any separation at any time, we will retain annexed to our Crown, We have now assigned the same to our Queen in dower. "In testimony, etc."
The claim of the Crown in the foregoing "Letters Patent" requires some explanation. The eighth Earl of Chester, John, surnamed the Scot, was a son of David, the brother of William, King of Scotland, who was also Earl of Huntington; John was the last Earl, who exercised regal jurisdiction over the counties of Chester and North Wales. He died in 1237, without issue, and in him terminated the male line of the Earls of Chester, who had governed the Palatinate for a period of 170 years. Henry III thereafterwards annexed the Earldom to the Crown, and maintained the Palatinate prerogatives, "That the honour thereof might not be extinguished by disuse." Since the year 1254, the heir-apparent to the Crown has held the dignity.
The mention of the "castle of Dincolyn" in the Letters Patent shows the date of either the building operations or the contemplation thereof, and the name Dincolyn is very suggestive of a previous stronghold.
1 Cal. Pat. Rolls, 26 Hen. III.
4 Smith's Earls of Chester, 9.