Famous Wales Castles
Beaumaris, strategically situated in flat, once -marshly land on the south side of Anglesey, was the last of the great Welsh Castles built by Edward I in the early 14th> century. It was designed by Edward’s military engineer Master James of St.George, and the flat land allowed him to built a castle which is almost perfectly symmetrical. It consist of two concentric rings of walls, an inner and an outer. The smaller and lower outer wall had sixteen towers defended by a broad moat, whose waters were fed by the Menai Strait,ile the square inner ward whose walls are some 16 feet thick, has cylindrical towers on the corners and two gatehouses. Beaumaris was never completed-even though the buildings took over thirtyfive years and at one time 3500 people were working on it. By 1330s the castle was as complete as it ever was to be, and it was considered impregnable.
Conwy Castle together with the great town wall with its twenty-one towers, forms one of the most impressive medieval fortifications in the British Isles, and it was completed in the astonishingly short time of five years, from 1283 to 1288. It is one of Edward’s I castles, and was built under the supervision of the great military engineer James of St. George, Master of the Royal Works. Unlike Beaumaris and several others Welsh castles, it is not concentric, since the wall follows the oblong contours of the rock and there is no gatehouse, but the town itself is strongly fortified, and the castle forecourt was defended by two of the great towers. Although the inside of the castle is ruined, the walls are almost intact, and the great round towers still stand to their full height.
The castle at Caernafon is one of the greatest examples of medieval military architecture. It stands on the southern end of the Menai Strait, on a site first used by the Normans, who in about 1090 constructed a motte-and-bailey castle here. The present castle consists of two baileys that narrow at their junction to form an hour-glass pla; the Normans motte controlled the shape of the eastern bailey, while the long, straight walls of the lower or western bailey enclose a five-sided space. Work on the castle was begun immediately after the fall of the northern Welsh castles to Edward I in 1283. Its distinction lies in the bulk and height of the curtain walls, the thirteen multi-angular towers astride them and the elaborate defenses devices- twin-towered fortress gates, drawbridges and portcullis, shooting galleries and murder holes.The castle has no keep, but the great Eagle Tower at the western end of the curtain is a remarkable early example of the tower-house.
Looking down on the Lake Padarn, Dolbadarn Castle stands on a knoll at the northern end of Llanberis Pass, from which it once controlled the route fron Caernafon into central Wales. It was a native Welsh stronghold, and its history probably goes back further than the earliest surviving masonry, a plain 12th century wall around the platform-top of the knoll. By the 13th.century it was a royal castle: Llywelyn the Great was probably responsible for the most imposing of its surviving features-the great round keep three storeys and some 40 foot high, which was built in 1230s or 1240s. At about the same time two rectangular towers whose remains are still visible were added to the curtain wall, and there is evidence that a hall and other rooms once stood on the site.
An early 13th century Welsh castle built by Llewelyn Fawr (Llewelyn the Great) to guard the approaches to Snowdonia. Another castle built at about the same time is Dolbadarn, at Llanberis. The castle occupies a natural rocky hilltop, and is surrounded by a curtain wall which follows the contour of the hillside to create a roughly hexagonal layout.The D-shaped keep tower originally stood to two storeys, but was extended to three storeys in the late 13th century by Edward I. Edward rebuilt the smaller west tower at the same time. In the late 15th century Maredudd ap Ieuan ap Robert bought Dolwyddelan and expanded the domestic quarters. Maredudd died in 1525, and his memorial brass can be seen at St Gwyddelan’s church nearby. Maredudd’s descendents favoured other family homes, like that at Gwydir Castle, and Dolwyddelan gradually fell into disuse, eventually becoming a romantic ruin much favoured by landscape artists. The ruins are in a remarkably good state of preservation, thanks mainly to the eforts of Lord Willoughby de Eresby, an enthusiastic Victorian restorer who gained ownership of Dolwyddelan through an advantageous marriage.
Edward I’s master mason James of St.George , began building Flint in the summer of 1277, even before the King had finished his successful campaign against Llywelyn, Prince of Wales. It was the first of the new Edwardian castles with which English authority was stamped on the conquered nation, and was sited on the estuary of the river Dee, from which it could be supplied by sea; though it is now silted up In the 13th. century the Flint was a rocky promontory on the west bank of the estuary. The outer bailey of the castle has largely disappeared, but the rest, though ruinos, is interesting and impressive.It consists of the four towers and some sections of the wall of the square inner bailey. Three of the towers were placed at the corners, projecting for most of their circumference beyond the wall. The fourth tower, a huge circular edifice with walls up to 23 foot thick, was built just beyond the angles of the walls and surrounded by its own moat; it could only be reached from the inner bailey, and was in effect a keep. In 1282 part of Flint castle was captured by the Welsh under Llywelyn ap Gruffyd before their revolt was crushed.
One of the nine fortresses planned by Edward I to consolidate his conquest of North Wales. Harlech was built on a rocky hill above the shore-line of Tremadoc Bay in the 1280s under the supervision of the King’s master mason James of St.George. It is a good example of a concentric castle, with two rectangles of fortifications forming an inner aand a middle bailey. As originally planned, the castle could be maintained from the sea; an outer bailey wall encloses the precipitous steps to sea level on the northern and western sides. To the south and east a moat was hacked out of the rock; the eastern side was the most vulnerable to attack and here the defences were strongest, with a drawbridge at either end of the moat and the outer one protected by a barbican. The middle bailey forms a terrace round the inner bailey and has much lower walls, so an attack would come under fire from both sets of battlements. During the Wars of the Roses (1455-1485) the castle surrendered to the Yorkist only after a seven years siege. The castle active history came to an end after the Civil War.
Controlling the lowest crossing of the river Clwyd, this site has a long military history. Welsh princes and Saxon Kings fought over it before the Conquest, and the Normans seized it and put up a motte-and-bailey castle as early as 1073, the earthworks can still be seen at a little distance from the present stone ruins of Edward I’s Castle. This, like Flint Castle was in progress even before Llywelyn ap Gruffydd surrendered to the English king in October 1277, the work was directed by Edward’s expert Master James of St.George. Edward was determined to hold down Wales , and given the mountainous nature of the interior that meant building a castle and be preoared to supply them by sea; in the case of Rhuddlan ,1800 ditches were employed to divert the Clwyd into a canal that ran down one side of the castle. A moat covered the other three sides. Rhuddlan was a concentric castle , the outer curtain wall has virtuall disappeared , but the inner wall is still a striking site. The castle’s defences remained unbreached when the Welsh rebelled in 1382, and Rhuddlan held out again in 1400 when Owain Glyndwr arracked the town. During the Civil War it was held for the King until 1646, abd afterward slighted by Parliament.