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CAERNARFON CASTLE, LL55 2AY

GETTING THERE

Postcode: LL55 2AY

Lat/Long:  53.1393N 4.2769W

Notes:  A major tourist attraction the castle is well sign-posted.  Car paking is available directly by the castle.  Most is pay and display.  

WHAT IS THERE TO SEE?

The extensive remains of a large late medieval castle including impressive King and Queen Gatehouses. Coloured stones used to imitate Constantinople are still visible.

VISIT OFFICIAL SITE (Opens in new window)

Castle is managed by CADW.

ADDITIONAL NOTES

1. Caernarfon Castle cost more than £22,000 with its lavish design, including coloured stones and angled turrets, inflating costs. By contrast the other Edwardian castles surrounding Snowdonia – Conwy, Harlech and Ruthkin castles cost significantly less.


2. Allegedly Edward I promised the Welsh "a Prince born in Wales, who did not speak a word of English"; he as referring to his baby son, the future Edward II, who had been born at Caernarfon whilst Edward was on campaign.


3. During the construction of the castle the body of the Roman emperor Magnus Maximus, emperor from AD 384-8, was discovered at Caernarfon. Using the discovery to build upon the cult of conquest he wished to create, Edward I ordered his reburial nearby with a degree of pomp.





Wales > North Wales CAERNARFON CASTLE

Built in the wake of the second Welsh War of Independence as the administrative centre for English rule in Wales, the design of the fortress at Caernarfon Castle was heavily influenced by the walls of Constantinople. It was attacked during both the Madog ap Llywelyn and Owain Glyndŵr rebellions.

HISTORY OF CAERNARFON CASTLE


The first fort at Caernarfon was a Roman Fort called Segontium built on a nearby site from the current castle. This was abandoned when the Roman Army withdrew from Britain in the early fifth century AD but the strategic importance of the site, which allowed dominance over the Menai Strait, was also noted by the Normans; a motte-and-bailey fort was built circa-1090 by Hugh of Avranches. This castle was overrun however in the early twelfth century and it remained unoccupied until the second War of Welsh Independence and Edward I's conquest of Wales.


This war commenced in Spring 1282 when Dafydd ap Gruffudd attacked the English strongholds at Aberystwyth, Hawarden and Rhuddlan castles. Despite his defeat in the first War of Welsh Independence and his forces being unprepared for the conflict, Llywelyn ap Gruffudd Prince of Wales, felt obliged to join his brother and lead the native Welsh to war once again. Edward I invaded and whilst the land attacks came from Chester and Montgomery, Anglesey was also specifically targeted. The island's rich fertile ground meant it was a key food source for the native Welsh and its capture left them little choice but to capitulate. Caernarfon Castle was built to secure this key area and to act as one of the chain of fortresses situated around Snowdonia, the traditional redoubt of the Welsh Princes. Caernarfon differed from the other castles though as it was built to be the administrative centre of English administration in Wales. Edward spared no expense in ensuring the castle was a statement of English domination; the coloured stone and angled towers were inspired by Constantinople (modern day Istanbul) whilst the position, just a short distance from Segontium made it clear that Edward was an equally effective conqueror.


The castle was attacked in the Welsh uprising of 1294 led by Madog ap Llywelyn. The castle was still incomplete by this stage - one side was defended only by a ditch and the town walls - and the Welsh managed to enter and take the castle via this weakness. Timber structures were burnt and extensive damage was done but the English re-took the castle in 1295 and work resumed as well as being augmented by a further castle on Anglesey itself (Beaumaris). It was attacked again in 1403 as part of the Owain Glyndŵr rebellion but held out against the assault.


Through the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, especially after the accession of the pro-Welsh Henry VII to the English Crown, the castle's infrastructure was neglected but the defences were nevertheless good enough for it to be garrisoned by Royalist forces during the Civil War. Attacked on numerous occasions it wasn't until 1646, after Royalist hopes of victory had disappeared, that the castle surrendered to Parliamentary forces. Thereafter the castle was largely neglected although it was used in 1969 to invest Prince Charles as Prince of Wales.

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