On my first visit to Wales and as an introduction to Welsh history my friend Yvonne took me to visit CaernarfonCastle. Getting to visit this magnificent medieval building in Gwynedd, north-west Wales was the perfect introduction to the rich Welsh history and culture.
I loved walking through the narrow streets and over the cobbled roads of the Edwardian town of Caernarfon. This town and castle acted as the administrative centre of North Wales for King Edward I of England in 1283 and as a result the defences were built on a grand scale.
While the castle was under construction, town walls were built around Caernarfon and they are still visible in parts of the town. These walls were quite narrow when compared to other fortified towns and we could not walk around the town along these old walls.
I love castles and the stories that always accompany them. I love exploring the different castles dotted around England and was so excited at actually getting to walk through a Welsh castle! Walking through the huge stone entranceway I was actually expecting a completely restored castle on the inside. Bur despite CaernarfonCastle’s external appearance of being mostly complete, the interior buildings are mostly in ruins and many of the building plans were never finished to start with. The rears of the King’s Gate (the entrance from the town) and the Queen’s Gate (the entrance from the south-east) were left unfinished, and foundations in the castle’s interior mark where buildings would have stood had work continued. This was quite a surprise but I had so much fun walking along the parts of the castle that were still standing and open to the public.
Seeing as I am a bit afraid of hights I did cling to the rope while climbing this very steep spiral staircase up the Queens Tower. The castle of Caernarfon was one of the most impressive of its time in Wales, and its construction – along with other Edwardian castles in the country – helped establish English rule. According to the Flores Historiarum, during the construction of the castle and planned town, the body of the Roman emperor Magnus Maximus was discovered at Caernarfon and Edward I ordered his reburial in a local church.
While walking along the castle walls I used my camera to look over the edge at the world below ad I didnt want to get to close to the edge. I did look like a scared crab up there sliding along the wall, trying to look brave and not scared while doing this.
The town and castle were sacked in 1294 when Madog ap Llywelyn led a rebellion against the English. Caernarfon was recaptured the following year. During the Glyndŵr Rising of 1400–1415, the castle was besieged. When the Tudor dynasty ascended to the English throne in 1485, tensions between the Welsh and English began to diminish and castles were considered less important. As a result, CaernarfonCastle was allowed to fall into a state of disrepair.
Yes, Im actually clinging to the handrails and not spreading my arms as usual as I did not feel to secure up on these walls. It has nothing to do with their stability but all to do with my fear of hights.
CaernarfonCastle was neglected until the 19th century when the state funded repairs. From the 1870s onwards, the government funded repairs to CaernarfonCastle. Steps, battlements, and roofs were repaired, and the moat to the north of the castle was cleared of post-medieval buildings that were considered to spoil the view, despite the protest of locals. In 1911, Caernarfon was used for the investiture of the Prince of Wales for the first time. He later became Edward VIII. In 1969 the precedent was repeated with the investiture of Charles, Prince of Wales.
It is now part of the World Heritage Site “Castles and Town Walls of King Edward in Gwynedd“.