is a World Heritage site, which reflects it's importance
and remarkable state of preservation. It sits high
on a cliff top and as with most of King Edward's iron ring of Castles
in North Wales completely dominates the small town. I have to admit that
the day I visited it was such
a nice day we abandoned plans to visit the Castle and instead chose to
take the grand children to the beach just a half a mile away. The beach
at Harlech is fantastic and we spent a good few hours sunbathing and
swimming in the waters of Cardigan Bay.
But to get back to the Castle I am afraid I only managed to get a few
pictures and will have to make a return visit soon.
Edward I set about building Harlech Castle immediately after his successful
campaign against the Welsh in 1283. As usual the overworked Master James
of Saint George undertook the design of the Castle but he was rewarded
for his efforts by being made constable of the Castle and would have lived
in the fine apartments he had designed in the gatehouse. It's position
on the top of the cliffs made three sides of the Castle practically invulnerable.
But the landward eastern wall would have been considered at risk and considerable
works were undertaken in building the massive D shaped towers flanking
On it's completion the Castle would not only have been the height of
achievement of medieval warfare but also a truly impressive work of art,
which it still is to this day.
But Harlech Castle proved itself to be more than just a good looking
building, and within a few years it had withstood attack from the Welsh
when Madoc ap Llywelyn began an uprising that spread quickly through Wales.
Several English held towns were razed and Harlech (along with Criccieth
Castle and Aberystwyth Castle) were besieged. It was entirely cut
off by land, but survived by receiving food shipped from Ireland.
This seems surprising today as the sea must be some half a mile
away, but up to the 19th Century the sea lapped the base of the cliffs.
The Castles fortunes changed however during another Welsh uprising in
1404 and it fell to Owain Glyndwr. Owain held the Castle for more than
4 years and it became the residence of his court and family and indeed
it may have been in Harlech castle that he was formally crowned Prince
Harlech was eventually reclaimed by the English under the future Henry
V who laid seige using heavy artillery, and the Castle again saw service
in the Wars of the Roses. In 1468 it was the last Lancastrian stronghold
to fall but this was after withstanding a seven year seige. Once again
King Edward 1's original strategy of reinforcement from the sea had
In the 16th Century most Royal Castles were ruined but Harlech was still
in use as the local assizes, and by the 17th Century the Castle was able
to be used by the Royalists in the Civil war, again withstanding a long
seige and Harlech was again the last Castle to be lost.
In 1660 the government ordered the defences to be destroyed but luckily
for us nothing was done. The Castle has survived the passage of time and
to this day stands proudly as a monument to the works of those men of
the 13th Century.
Directions : [ Map
of Harlech Castle location ]
You can't miss it. Drive into Harlech and it is on top of the hill overlooking
the Golf Course.
Click here for pictures of Harlech