Castles In Wales
Castles in their most basic sense are defensive structures that are most commonly linked to the Middle Ages, though they have a history far beyond the castles that existed during that time. Castles are often compared to forts, but there are distinct differences in that castles are typically meant to serve as a residence for a monarch, or for a noble, and a castle is usually used to command a specific piece of territory. Forts and Fortresses on the other hand primarily house soldiers but are also used as defensive structures. Similar constructions can be found in most countries in their own unique visual appearances, including the Kremlin in Russia and Shiro in Japan.
There are a number of defining or distinguishing features of a castle that set them apart from other defensive structures such as forts and fortresses. Castles were meant to serve as places of protection and retreat from invading armors, which is where portcullises, draw bridges and battlements came from. Castles also served as offensive weapons that existed within hostile territories, allowing lords to command and control territory surrounding the castle. Castles were also either built as residences for the lord or monarch, or they eventually evolved for that purpose following their construction.
Wales is often referred to as the land of castles, and rightly so because many of the finest surviving examples of medieval construction techniques can be found in Wales. While there are castles found elsewhere in the world, and plenty of castle-like structures in existence; for anyone who has a love of castles or wishes to see how powerful a castle can be at standing up to the test of time, Wales is certainly the place to visit. If you want to see them all, put your walking shoes on as there are over 100 castles still standing spread throughout Wales. If your time is limited, there are a select few that you absolutely must see.
Brief introductions to a few of the Castles in Wales…
Located on the Eastern edge of Beaumaris in Anglesey in North Wales, this is a stunning castle with nearly perfect geometric symmetry. It began in 1295 and was the largest and the last castle to be built in Wales by King Edward I. Beaumaris castle is a stunning castle and well worth visiting because it is regarded as one of the most sophisticated of all examples of medieval military architecture constructed in Britain.
Caernarfon Castle – Located in North Wales, this is one of the most architecturally impressive castles built by Edward I in Wales. Caernarfon castle was built to be just as impressive as defensive, and was designed in a much different way than its neighbours which were much more functional in nature.
Carreg Cennen Castle – Located just north of Swansea and just south east of Llandeilo, this castle was built on a hill top and happened to be the first true castle located at Carreg Cennen. The castle is protected by a steep 300-foot cliff on one side. If an attacker wanted to breach the castle, he would first be required to attack through the outer ward, then through an enclosure designed specifically to trap intruders. Defenders could easily mount an assault upon the invaders who are trapped within this enclosure, which made Carreg Cennen Castle a well defended and stunning spectacle.
This is a 30-acre castle with its very own moat and buttressed wall. Even though this castle has taken some damage through the years, it still provides a truly beautiful sight. A fort was built around 75 AD and 500 soldiers were immediately stationed there, and held their positions for fifty years. Building continued for fifty additional years after it was destroyed by burning in the late 1200′s. This castle has a relatively concentric design that required attackers to cross a moat before they could infiltrate the castle itself. There were several gatehouses that served as a second line of defense against attacks. Each gatehouse was like a castle on its own, and could be defended separately.
Conwy is another one of Edward I’s castles, designed by James of St. George. This castle has eight incredible towers with a high curtain wall, making Conwy Castle one of the greatest castles in all of Medieval Europe, offering sturdy defense and attractive appearance. It took until 1287 before the entire castle complex would be completed. Because of its geographic position, this castle could not be developed as a concentric design like most similar castles.
Harlech Castle – Located in North Wales, Harlech castle is a magnificent structure that is linked in with a great deal of old Welsh mythology. Regardless of mythology, there really is no surprise for why the Harlech Castle may be one of the most stunning and most familiar of all strongholds in Britain. Harlech is a stunning and massive castle with a twin towered gatehouse. This fortress also has massive inner towers and walls, many of which are still standing nearly to their full original height.
This castle was built in the 13th century by a family that made its money during forays into Ireland. Carew castle is the site of the Carew Cross, an ancient Celtic cross that dates back to pre Norman times in the United Kingdom. The cross has an inscription that was not translated until the 1940′s, and it was found to be a memorial cross commemorating the death of Maredudd ap Edwin, who was killed two years after becoming joint ruler of Duheubarth in South Wales.
These are some of the more popular castles in Wales, but not by any means the only castles you will find by visiting our stunning country. Regardless of whether you are a tourist visiting Wales, or a castle connoisseur, there is plenty to take pleasure from in the castles of Wales.
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