A visit to Harlech Castle on New Year’s Eve. The rain fell hard and the panoramic backdrop of Snowdonia’s peaks which the castle is famous for…was nowhere to be seen.
North Wales (Pura Wallia) was conquered by Edward I in 1282-3. He famously stamped English authority on Gwynedd by constructing the most spectacular castles in the British Isles. Described by Thomas Pennant in the eighteenth century as, “The magnificent badges of our subjection”, Edward’s seven new castles cost £100,000 in total. Conwy, Harlech, Caernarfon, Beaumaris and Aberystwyth were located on the coast; the first four are now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The awesome strength of these concentric fortresses was supplemented by defended docks allowing resupply (Harlech is now 1km inland due to dune formation) and all except Harlech had new towns attached, to raise revenue and perhaps to ‘plant’ English culture and language.