We visited three Welsh castles and the site of an old Roman garrison while on a bus tour today. I will be focusing on the second half of our day which included Caernarfon Castle and Beaumaris Castle. Caernarfon Castle was a medieval fortress in Caernarfon, Gwynedd, north-west Wales and is now cared for by Cadw, the Welsh Government’s historic environment service. There originally was a wood castle in the town of Caernarfon from the late 11th century until 1283 when King Edward I of England began replacing it with the current stone structure we see today. The Edwardian town and castle acted as the administrative centre of north Wales and as a result the defences were built on a large scale. While the castle was under construction, town walls were also built around Caernarfon. The work is estimated to have cost between £20,000 and £25,000 from the start until the end of work in 1330. Despite Caernarfon Castle’s appearance from the outside looking mostly complete, the interior buildings no longer survive and many of the buildings planned were never finished at all. 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, Caernarfon Castle was allowed to fall into a state of disrepair. Despite its poor condition, during the English Civil War Caernarfon Castle was held by Royalists, and was besieged three times by Parliamentarian forces. This was the last time the castle was used in war. Caernarfon Castle was neglected until the 19th century when the state funded repairs. In 1911, Caernarfon Castle was used for the investiture of the Prince of Wales, and again in 1969. It is part of the World Heritage Site
Beaumaris Castle is located on the Isle of Anglesey in Wales, it was built as part of Edward I’s campaign to conquer the north of Wales after 1282. Plans were probably first made to construct the castle around 1284, but this was delayed due to lack of funds and work did not begin until 1295 following the Madog ap Llywelyn uprising. A substantial workforce was employed in the initial years under the direction of James of St George. Edward’s invasion of Scotland soon diverted funding from the project, however, and work stopped, only recommencing after an invasion scare in 1306. When work finally ceased around 1330 a total of £15,000 had been spent, but the castle remained incomplete.
Beaumaris Castle was taken by Welsh forces in 1403 during the rebellion of Owain Glyndŵr, but was soon recaptured by royal forces in 1405. Following the outbreak of the English Civil War in 1642, the castle was held by forces loyal to Charles 1, but was shortly retaken. Despite this rebellion the castle was not slighted, it eventually fell into ruin around 1660. Like Caernarvon the ruined castle is now managed by Cadw. Historian Arnold Taylor described Beaumaris Castle as Britain’s “most perfect example of symmetrical concentric planning”. The castle is built of local stone, with a moated outer ward guarded by twelve towers and two gatehouses, overlooked by an inner ward with six massive towers. The inner ward was designed to contain ranges of domestic buildings and accommodation able to support two major households. The south gate could be reached by ship, allowing the castle to be directly supplied by sea. UNESCO considers Beaumaris to be one of “the finest examples of late 13th century and early 14th century military architecture in Europe”, and it is classed as a World Heritage site.It