Notes: Located on the island of Anglesey. There is a large pay and display car park in the near vicinity of the castle.
WHAT IS THERE TO SEE?
Significant ruins of the last major fortification in Wales built by Edward I. Although some elements were unfinished it remains an impressive structure and includes a medieval harbour. Unlike other Edwardian castles, Beaumaris was not constrained by geography meaning an uncompromising concentric design
1. Beaumaris was built and designed by Master James of St George to a concentric design (three rings of defences: moat, outer wall, inner wall).
Built to occupy and control the prosperous island of Anglesey, Beaumaris Castle was the last of Edward I’s great Welsh fortresses. Although completed long after Welsh resistance had been extinguished the castle played an important logistical role in the War of Three Kingdoms and remains a superb example of a castle built with concentric defences.
HISTORY OF BEAUMARIS CASTLE
Anglesey was one of the most prosperous and effluent areas of medieval Wales. In 1277, during the first war with Llywelyn ap Gruffudd Prince of Wales, Edward had decisively used shipping to blockade the port preventing the export of grain to the Welsh troops in nearby Snowdonia. When the Second War of Welsh Independence started in 1282 Edward again attacked Anglesey; troops were landed and the island occupied. It was at this point the building of an English castle on the island was considered but the death of Gruffudd and the associated peace dividend meant that no funding was allocated. The situation changed in 1295; another Welsh rebellion, this time led by Madog ap Llywelyn, flared up.
Construction of Beaumaris Castle commenced in 1295 building to a concentric design. The nearby Welsh town of Llanfaes was forcibly moved to Newborough to give the castle, and the associated new English occupied town of Beaumaris, sufficient space. Work ceased in 1330, the threat from the Welsh having ended, leaving some of the domestic accommodation and the turrets on the Inner Ward towers incomplete. A survey of 1343 found the castle to be largely ruinous and requiring £684 worth of repairs.
Given its incomplete status Beaumaris only had fleeting roles in subsequent events. It was garrisoned during the revolt of Owain Glyndŵr in 1400 although saw no action. During the Civil War money was spent to try and make the castle defensible for use by the Royalists; it served as an effective logistical base for the transport of men and supplies from Ireland.