September 23, 2012

Caernarfon Castle

Caernarfon Castle is one of the most impressive castles of King Edward I of England. The castle is located in the town of Caernarfon in Gwynedd, north-west Wales. It is surrounded by the waters of Menai Strait, which separates the island  Anglesey from North Wales.
This is a file from the Wikimedia Commons, Author: Herbert Ortner,  License
The first fortifications at Caernarfon were built by the Romans. Their military settlement (Castrum), which they called Segontsy, located on the outskirts of modern Carnarvon. Settlement was by the River Seiont, which flows into the Strait of Menai. The city's name is derived from the Carnarvon Roman settlement. Welsh town was known as «y gaer yn Arfon», which means "the stronghold in the land over against Môn"; Môn is the Welsh name of the island of Anglesey. Little is known about the fate of Segontium and its associated civilian settlement after the Romans departed from Britain in the early 5th century.
In 1066, William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy, invaded England. Having conquered England, William decided to subdue the Welsh land. According to the "Domesday Book," William of Wales has appointed Robert  of Rhuddlan in 1086, who was killed  by the Welsh two years later. His cousin, the Earl of Chester, Hugh d'Avranches, regained control of Wales and built three castles: one  at an unknown location somewhere in Meirionnydd, one at Aberlleiniog on the island Anglesey, and another one at Caernarfon. This early Caernarfon Castle was on a promontory which was formed by the River Seiont and separated from the Anglesey island by the Menai Strait. It was a Norman castle type (motte-and-bailey), defended by a wooden palisade  and earthen banks. Upland (motte) was later used in the construction of the stone castle by Edward I. Exact location of residential and commercial buildings (bailey) is unknown. Presumably, they were to the north-east of the motte. It is likely that the motte was surmounted by a wooden tower known as a keep. The Welsh recaptured Gwynedd in 1115, and Caernarfon Castle came into the possession of the Welsh princes. From contemporary documents written at the castle, it is known that Llywelyn the Great and later Llywelyn ap Gruffudd occasionally stayed at Caernarfon.
Author:  Albertistvan, License

Name: Caernarfon Castle

Shire county:  Gwynedd
Region:  north-west

Country:  Wales

Sovereign state: United Kingdom

Type:    Norman castle
Material: Brick

Construction: 1284-1330
Condition:  opened to the public

March 22, 1282  war broke out again between England and Wales, which began with an uprising  Dafydd ap Gruffydd. December 11, 1282 was killed the Prince of Wales Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, who supported his younger brother Dyffid. Dyffid ap Gruffydd continued to fight with England, but without success. In May 1283  Dolbadarn Castle, Dafydd ap Gruffudd's last castle, was captured and in June of the same year Dyffid was captured and later brutally executed. Dyffid was the last Prince of Wales that was not an Englishman. After the defeat in the war, Dyffid was executed, and the title of Prince of Wales began wearing heirs of the English throne, from Edward II, son of Edward I who was born in Caernarvon Castle in April 1284 and won the title in 1301.
After his victory in the war in 1283, Edward I began to strengthen English influence over Wales.
Edward wanted to create a nucleus of English influence in this area, which was previously so rich in Welsh tradition and anti-English feeling. He also wished to create Caernarvon as the capital of a new dominion - hence the incorporation of a town and market into the strong walls of the site. Together with the castle of Caernarvon, Edward started building castles of Conwy and Harlech. The master mason responsible for the design and orchestrating the construction of the castle was probably James of Saint George, an experienced architect and military engineer who played an important role in building the Edwardian castles in Wales.It is recorded that "Flowers of History" (Latin Flores Historiarum), during construction work in Caernarvon body was found Magna Roman Emperor Maximus, which was re-buried in the local church.
The construction of the new stone castle was part of a programme of building which transformed Caernarfon; town walls were added, connected to the castle, and a new quay was built. The earliest reference to building at Caernarfon dates from 24 June 1283, when a ditch had been dug separating the site of the castle from the town to the north. A bretagium, a type of stockade, was created around the site to protect it while the permanent defences were under construction. Timber was shipped from as far away as Liverpool. Stone was quarried from nearby places, such as from Anglesey and around the town. A force of hundreds worked on the excavation of the moat and digging the foundations for the castle.  While the foundations for the stone walls were being created, timber-framed apartments were built for Edward I and Eleanor of Castile, his queen. They arrived at Caernarfon on either 11 or 12 July 1283 and stayed for over a month
Construction at Caernarfon Castle continued over the winter of 1283/1284. The extent of completion is uncertain, although architectural historian Arnold Taylor has speculated that when Edward and Eleanor visited again in Easter 1284, the Eagle Tower may have been complete. The Statute of Rhuddlan, enacted on 3 March 1284, made Caernarfon a borough and the administrative centre of the county of Gwynedd. Edward II was born at Caernarfon on 25 April 1284. Edward was created Prince of Wales in 1301, with control over Wales and its incomes. Since then the title has traditionally been held by the eldest son of the monarch.
In 1284, Caernarfon was defended by a garrison of forty men, more than the thirty-strong garrisons at Conwy and Harlech. Even in peace time, when most castles would have a guard of only a few men, Caernarfon was defended by between twenty and forty people due to its importance. By 1285, Caernarfon's town walls were mostly complete. At the same time work continued on the castle till 1330.

This is a file from the Wikimedia Commons, License
In 1294, Wales broke out in rebellion led by Madog ap Llywelyn, prince of Wales. Carnarfon, being an administrative center and symbol of British rule in Wales, was the primary purpose for the Welsh. In September, they captured the city, causing at the same time severely damaged the walls of the city. The castle was protected by a moat and a temporary fortifications, so it was quickly taken and anything flammable was set alight. Fire raged across Caernarfon, leaving destruction in its wake. In the summer of 1295 the English moved in the march to Carnarvon, and in November of the same year began refortifying the town.  Rebuilding the town walls was given a highest priority, so that reconstruction work had been finished in two months before the scheduled date. After this, all efforts have been made for the completion of construction of the castle, which was stopped in 1292. Once the rebellion was put down, Edward began building Beaumaris Castle on the Isle of Anglesey. The work was overseen by James of Saint George; as a result, Walter of Hereford took over as master mason for the new phase of construction. Construction continued at a steady rate until 1330. 
For around two centuries after the conquest of Wales, the arrangements established by Edward I for the governance of the country remained in place. During this time the castle was constantly garrisoned, and Caernarfon was effectively the capital of north Wales. There was a degree of discrimination, with the most important administrative jobs in Wales usually closed to Welsh people. Tension between the Welsh and their English conquerors spilled over at the start of the 15th century with the outbreak of the Glyndŵr Rising (1400–1415). During the revolt, Caernarfon was one of the targets of Owain Glyndŵr's army. The town and castle were besieged in 1401, and in November that year the Battle of Tuthill took place nearby between Caernarfon's defenders and the besieging force. In 1403 and 1404, Caernarfon was besieged by Welsh troops with support from French forces; the garrison at the time was around thirty. The ascension of the Tudor dynasty to the English throne in 1485 heralded a change in the way Wales was administered. The Tudors were Welsh in origin, and their rule eased hostilities between the Welsh and English. As a result castles such as Caernarfon, which provided secure centres from which the country could be administered, became less important.
In Caernarfon's case the walls of the town and castle remained in good condition, while features which required maintainable – such as roofs – were in a state of decay and much timber was rotten. Conditions were so poor that of the castles seven towers and two gatehouses, only the Eagle Tower and the King's Gate had roofs by 1620. The domestic buildings inside the castle had been stripped of anything valuable, such as glass and iron. Despite the disrepair of the domestic buildings, the castle's defences were in a good enough state that during the English Civil War in the mid-17th century, it was garrisoned by Royalists. Caernarfon Castle was besieged three times during the war. The constable of the castle  was John Byron, 1st Baron Byron, who surrendered Caernarfon to Parliamentarian forces in 1646. It was the last time Caernarfon Castle saw fighting. Although it was ordered in 1660 that the castle and town walls should be dismantled, the work was aborted early on and may never have started.
This is a file from the, Author: Phil Lloyd
Despite avoiding slighting, the castle was neglected until the late 19th century. From the 1870s onwards, the government funded repairs to Caernarfon Castle. The deputy-constable, Llewellyn Turner oversaw the work, in many cases controversially restoring and rebuilding the castle, rather than simply conserving the existing stonework. 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. Under the auspices of the Office of Public Works Castle, from 1908, was protected as a building of great historical importance. In 1911, the first time in Carnarvon Castle was held the ceremony of the investiture Prince of Wales, Edward VIII. In 1969 the precedent was repeated with the investiture of Charles, Prince of Wales. Although Caernarfon Castle has been the property of the Crown, it is currently cared for by CADW(Organization for the Preservation of Historical Monuments of Wales). In 1986, Caernarfon was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites as part of the "Castles and Town Walls of King Edward in Gwynedd" in recognition of its global importance and to help conserve and protect the site. The castle houses the Royal Welch Fusiliers Museum. 

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