Wednesday, the 17th September 2008, one of the few dry days we’d had for some time. The sun was out, though hazy at times, so off to Caernarfon for a wander around the castle there.
Caernarfon castle is another of King Edward 1st’s ring of castles in north Wales. But though castles like Conwy and Rhuddlan are wonderful places, this one is different. Edward started building Caernarfon in 1283 and it still wasn’t completely finished when building work stopped in 1330.
He wanted his master-mason and military engineer to build a castle that would echo the walls of the Roman City of Constantinople
What he achieved was very close to that. Many consider this to be the finest castle that man has seen.
From the south, across Afon Seiont you get the best view, showing not only the size, but the wonderful multi-angular towers and colour-banded walls.
The plan of the castle is shaped almost like a figure 8. Divided into two wards, in this view the lower ward is in the foreground, the narrow waist in the centre and the upper ward beyond.
Many of the walls and towers have survived, though some have been restored. The courtyard buildings though have mostly disappeared, except for foundations or toothing projecting from walls.
The picture on the left is of the kitchen, or all that remains of it. It is conveniently located next to the Well tower and opposite the Great Hall. In a castle of this size the kitchen would have to cater for about 600 people every day.
The picture on the right is one of the staircases in a tower. very steep and narrow, I wouldn’t have wanted to run up them carrying a crossbow and other equipment!
In the centre is one of the arrow loops, showing the thickness of the walls. This castle has a unique arrangement of arrow loops, allowing bowmen to use their firepower in several directions at the same time, it must have been pretty devastating in Medieval times.
This is the upper ward. It is built on the site of a previous Motte-and-Bailey castle and as you can see, it is raised. This was the site of the bailey.
To the left is the Granary Tower, with the North-East Tower just behind it.
The Queens Gate is on the right.
This is the upper ward looking back to the lower ward.
Edwards son, known as Edward of Caernarfon, was born in the castle and became the first Prince of Wales in 1301.
The large circular slate dias was placed there and used for the investiture of Prince Charles as Prince of Wales in 1969. The slate was from a local quarry which has now closed.
Modern investitures had started again in 1911. This is a fantastic setting for these ceremonies.
This is an old cannon standing in the “waist” between the two wards. The Queens Gate is in the background.
This is one of the covered wall-walks. very dark and narrow.
This is one of the walk-ways around the top of the castle, this one is between the Black Tower and Chamberlain Tower.
The view from the lower ward. On the right are the foundations of the Great Hall. What a pity that this is all thats left, it must have been an impressive place 100ft long.
The Chamberlain Tower is on the right with the base of the Queens Tower in the right foreground.
Left centre is the Kings Gate. The immense strength of medieval fortifications are in evidence here. When completed, intruders would have had to cross a drawbridge, pass through 5 doors and under 6 portcullises, with a right- angled turn from the main gate passage to a smaller passage, along the south side of the gate house, before entering the lower ward over a drawbridge!
The view from the Queens Tower, looking up Afon Seiont to the hills beyond.
The Eagle Tower is the greatest of all the castles towers.
Everything about the tower is designed on a grander scale.
Like some other towers it’s built with a basement and 3 storeys, with the 3 lofty turrets giving it it’s special appearance.
A view of the top of the Eagle Tower from the Well Tower.
Everything about the Eagle Tower is on a grander scale.
The rooms, as in other towers are 10-sided, but these are 30 to 35ft across.
The stone eagle is still perched on top of the west turret, but is very weathered now.
The view from the Eagle Tower. The town wall is in the foreground.
The view then extends across the Menai Strait to Anglesey
The town walls looking towards the castle from the shore of the Menai Strait.
The gate in the background (after the tower) is known as the Porth-yr-Aur, “The Golden Gate”.
Most of the wall is still intact, and there are eight towers and two twin-towered gates.
Another view of the town wall showing 2 towers, and on the right part of St Mary’s chapel.
St Mary’s was built into the wall in the 14th century.
I’ve spent over 4 hours looking round this wonderful castle, and still haven’t seen everything.
There is so much to see here, including interactive displays, gift shops and the museum of the Royal Welch Fusiliers. It’s well worth a visit if your heading to north west Wales.