1. Designed by Master James of St George, master mason to Edward I, Harlech benefited from his personal oversight in its construction.
2. The siege of 1468 gave rise to the song 'Men of Harlech'.
Although small when compared to the other fortresses of Edward I, Harlech Castle has had an active life; seized by the Owain Glyndŵr it was his headquarters during his rebellion and was besieged in the Wars of the Roses and the Civil War.
HISTORY OF HARLECH CASTLE
Harlech Castle was built between 1283-90 in the aftermath of the second War of Welsh Independence and, like other castles constructed by Edward I, it was built to a concentric design albeit modified for the high rocky outcrop on which it was constructed. A stairway to sea level coupled with a channel provided a secure berth for ships to facilitate resupply by sea; something deemed essential for sustained occupation as part of the conquest of Wales.
In 1400 Owain Glyndŵr led a rebellion against English rule; Harlech was besieged and in 1404 after a long siege fell to the Welsh. It was then occupied by the rebel leader who used it as his base of operations until 1409 when Henry of Monmouth (the future Henry V) retook the castle. This association with the Lancastrian dynasty continued into the Wars of the Roses (1455-85) when Harlech remained loyal to the faction through to 1468 when it was besieged and taken by forces of the Yorkist King Edward IV.
During the Civil War Harlech was garrisoned for the King and came under siege from Parliamentary forces in July 1646. With the surrender of Pendennis and Denbigh Castles, Harlech became the last mainland Royalist stronghold but ultimately surrendered on 15 March 1647 with its fall signifying the end of the first English Civil War. The castle was slighted on the orders of Parliament.