Friday, 20 May 2011

Men of Harlech.

How Harlech castle may have looked in 1325.How Harlech Castle may have looked in 1325.

Harlech Castle.Harlech Castle.

A fine but chilly day meant wrapping up warmly for our visit to Harlech Castle. Walking up the steep and narrow road with no footpath to the castle was a bit of a challenge so early in the day but we made it. A reasonable admission fee of £3.40 each plus the usual souvenir and we were soon inside.

The main building in the castle.The main building in the castle.

The Great Hall Harlech Castle.The Great Hall Harlech Castle.

The castle was built between 1283 and 1289 at a cost of around £9500 (probably £9.5M these days). It was the smallest of many built by King Edward I around North Wales as a way of keeping control over the Welsh. It was in 1294 that Llywelynn ap Gruffydd  led a rebellion against the English King and took Harlech Castle. This rebellion was crushed and Llywelynn disappeared into Snowdonia.

Our campsite from the parapets of Harlech Castle.Our campsite from the parapets of Harlech Castle.

These 3 stones would have held the floor joists.These 3 stones would have held the floor joists.

It was in 1400 another rebellion led by Owain Glynd┼Ár  the castle was taken and Owain lived there and held a parliament there in 1405. It was in 1408 that the castle was taken again by Prince Harry of Monmouth (the future King Henry V) and in 1409 returned to English hands. It was the civil war between the Yorkist’s and Lancastrian’s that the castle again came under siege during the War of the Roses and it is believed that this is where the unofficial national anthem “Men of Harlech” came from.

The parapets went round all four towers.The parapets went round all four towers.

Heading up the narrow stairs to the parapet.Heading up the narrow stairs to the parapet.

External walls 6 foot thick in Harlech castle.External walls 6 foot thick in Harlech castle.

It’s understood that the last time the castle was used to hold court was during Queen Elizabeth I reign. Rooms in the castle were restored for the purpose. The hardest fact to come to terms with was that the sea used to come right up to the cliff below the castle and in some of the siege’s the castle was supplied by boat which helped the occupants to survive. Over 700 years sand has built up and now the sea is about a mile from the castle, unbelievable.

It's hard to believe that the sea used to come right up to the castle footings.It's hard to believe that the sea used to come right up to the castle footings.

Plenty of slate around here so they build wall with it and no mortar.Plenty of slate around here so they build wall with it and no mortar.

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