A Brief History of Mold

Aerial view of Bailey Hill

Aerial view of Baileys Hill

The Town of Mold was established as a settlement in Norman times and the remains of the Motte and Bailey castle can still be seen at the top of Bailey Hill, the strategically strong site that overlooks the Alyn Valley.

The name Mold, probably comes from the Norman-French Mont haut, meaning the ‘high hill’.
Gwyddgrug in Welsh means the Mound.

Soon after 1100, Robert, the Norman marcher lord of Moldsdale, built himself a castle on the largest of the glacial moraines that dotted his valley. Thereafter he took the name of his new stronghold and was known as Robert de Mont Haut. Mont Haut slipped into Mohault, then Moald (recorded in 1284) and finally Mold by 1561.

The hill was irregularly shaped, the two flatter areas became ‘baileys’ or fortified yards. At the northern end the natural moraine was further heightened to become a ‘motte’ (mound) for a small keep or castle. The whole complex has long been known as ‘the Bailey Hill’ although it should perhaps more correctly be called ‘Mold Castle’.

One of Molds most famous sons is Daniel Owen, who was not only a great author but also worked hard for the people of Mold. In 1894 he was elected the first Chairman of the newly formed Mold Urban District Council.

Daniel Owen Statue

Daniel Owen Statue

The Daniel Owen statue stands in the Daniel Owen Square on Earl Road. Daniel Owen was born in Mold in 1836, the youngest of six children. When he was a young baby his father and two of his brothers were drowned in an accident at the Argoed colliery, and Owen was brought up in great poverty. Owen was apprenticed to a local tailor, Angel Jones. Although he spent some time at Bala College, where he began training to become a minister of religion, he did not complete his studies and returned to his native town to set up his own drapery and tailor business. Owen had taken a keen interest in literature since his early twenties and he published a volume of sermons in 1879. During the years which followed Owen wrote a series of popular novels, and many were serialised in the denominational magazines.
He is credited with starting the tradition of the Welsh language novel, Rhys Lewis often being credited as the first Novel written in Welsh. Owen was an influence on many later novelists, such as Kate Roberts and T. Rowland Hughes. He is considered one of the greatest of Welsh language novelists. Among his most famous works are 'Y Dreflan' (1881), 'Rhys Lewis' (1885), 'Enoc Huws' (1891) and 'Gwen Tomos' (1894) Straeon y Pentan (short stories) (1895).

Mold is also famed for being the home of the ‘Mold Gold Cape’. The Gold Cape was discovered by labourers in pieces at Bryn yr Ellyllon just of Chester Road, Mold in 1833 along with the bones of a man and amber beads. Missing fragments of the cape have turned up over the years, the last fragment found only 10 years ago.

The entire cape was found crushed and broken and has been repaired using reinvented technology to replace the missing 15% of the metal. It is dated between 1900 and 1600BC.

Mold Gold Cape

The 'Mold Gold Cape'

It is made from the equivalent of 23-carat gold, weighs one kilogram and was created from one ingot of gold and decorated with ribs and bosses giving the impression of folded cloth. It is believed to have been a garment worn for religious ceremonies. It would have fitted over the shoulders, upper arms and body of its wearer, who would have had to have had assistance in putting on the cape and once on would have had severely restricted arm movement.

While the original cape resides in the British Museum, a replica can be seen in the heritage centre situated above Mold Library. A stone tablet in the wall of a nearby house on Chester Road marks the spot where the cape was found.