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History of Bailey Hill, Mold, celebrated with a picnic

Bailey Hill
Bailey Hill provides great views over the surrounding countryside

By Alys Lewis
Mold's first Bailey Hill festival (2 May) celebrates the historical importance of the town's "often overlooked" Norman castle site

Visitors to Mold could be forgiven if they've never visited the summit of historic Bailey Hill and enjoyed its far reaching views.

Bailey Hill picnic, 2 May, 1-8pm
Free entertainment for all ages, including dance, music, poetry and story telling from lots of local performers. For more details:

This is because the hill itself is not immediately visible to town centre shoppers, hidden behind the former Pendref Chapel at the top of the ascending High Street and surrounded by a high wall, trees and shrubs.

Now, all that's to change as a local group aim to tidy up the area, improve signage and create a heritage trail around the hill which has had a fascinating past, according to local historian Ray Bailey.

Ray reckons few people realise the importance of the man-made site, which once may have been an ancient burial mound and, later, was certainly a Norman castle.

Artist impression of Mold's motte and bailey castle, courtesy Flintshire Council
Artist's impression of the Norman motte and bailey castle at Mold

"The building of the castle in c1072 - upon an existing earthwork - is similar to many other Norman castles, saving both time and effort," said Ray. "Even so, a considerable work force would be required to build the castle."

When completed the castle would have towered above the surrounding countryside, more thab 100 ft (30 m) above the ground.

"It was displaying military might and acting as a status symbol."

The castle was originally built and occupied by its Norman settlers, who, it is thought, took their name from 'mont haut', meaning high hill.

This became corrupted down the years until it became 'Mold'. So Bailey Hill may have given the town its name.

The castle changed hands many times over the years.

"As befits its frontier position the castle was constantly threatened and besieged by the Welsh, holding out until Owain Gwynedd finally captured it in 1146."

1923 eisteddfod ceremony at Bailey Hill
Gorsedd ceremony on Bailey Hill for 1923 National Eisteddfod in Mold

The castle was fought over many more times and given its violent past it's ironic that it has been used for leisure purposes now for many years.

As Ray says: "It is rather fitting that on 3 June 1870 at the King's Head in Holywell, Bailey Hill was acquired from Mostyn Estates for the princely sum of £400 for the people of Mold. The hill had been used as a recreational area by the citizens for some time prior to this."

In early 2010, Cittaslow Mold community group secured a £9,500 Welsh Assembly Government Tidy Towns grant to repaint the entrance gates, put up new signs and marker posts for a historic trail, and produce a walking guide with detailed map for the trail.

The group is keen to find out how the public would like to see Bailey Hill developed.

Anyone interested in voicing their opinion should contact Geoff Collett, through Mold Town Council on 01352 758532, and / or leave your comments here.

Have your say

BBC Radio Wales' Adam Walton blogs: "Mold's resurrection reaches some kind of apotheosis this week as the town becomes the place to be for anyone in the area with an interest in creative expression."

Colin Foden, Chester: "I used to belong to Broughton and Bretton Bowling Club and always enjoyed playing at the tranquil setting of Bailey Hill. I had a shock when I visited the site last year. I am pleased the area is about to be taken in hand. Perhaps 'Time Team' could be contacted as there must be a substantial amount of archaeology present. This would attract country wide attention."



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