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Fortresses and Castles
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Fortresses and Castles
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Fortresses and Castles
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Cathar Castles
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Welsh Castles
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Castles Page 3
  Caerphilly
Mid Glamorgan, Wales
  Beaumaris
Anglesey, Wales
  Harlech
Gwynedd, Wales
  Penbroke
Dyfed, Wales
  Chepstow
Monmouthshire, Wales
  Laugharne
Carmarthenshire, Wales
  Conway
Aberconwy, Wales
  Caernarfon
Gwynedd, Wales
  DManorbier
Pembrokeshire, Wales
  Carreg Cennen Cynnodeb
Carmarthenshire, Wales
Flint
Flintshire, Wales
Raglan
Gwent, Wales


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Updated: June 13, 2004


The Norman barons who conquered Wales may have been a small group of men, their impact on the Welsh countryside is undeniable. This invading warrior race had already practiced battle techniques against English armies and then brought these tactics to the western part of the island. Edward I was responsible for much of the castle construction in Wales. His plan was to repair and rebuild castles where possible and erect more scientifically designed and more carefully located castles in new sites. Wales was home to the famous "Iron Ring" of defensive castles. These medieval strongholds were so well constructed that even Cromwell's attempts to destroy royal fortresses were ineffective. Gunpowder and artillery were not enough o bring down many Welsh castle walls. Castles were a vital part of Welsh protection, even as late as the 1400s, during the Wars of the Roses. The most impressive and powerful of these medieval strongholds were those built by the Anglo-Norman lords and the castles still keep their names, such as Caerphilly, Cardiff, Chepstow, and Kidwelly.

Caerphilly Castle, ( Castell Caerffili-Crynodeb ),Mid Glamorgan, South Wales. Control of the Areas to the North of Cibwr was a problem facing Gilbert de Clare in the second half of the thirteenth century . In 1266 he had taken Gruffydd ap Rhys (ruler of Uwch-and Is-Caiach) a prisoner. Then In 1268 he started building Caerphilly Castle. Caerphilly was built in the 13th century and historians consider this structure to be the finest and earliest example of a true, regular concentric fortification in all of the United Kingdom. One of Henry III's most powerful and ambitious barons, Gilbert de Clare, lord of Glamorgan, built this castle. His purpose was to secure the area and prevent lowland south Wales from falling into the hands of the Welsh leader Llywelyn the Last, who controlled most of mid and north Wales and he had taken Gruffydd ap Rhys (ruler of Uwch-and Is-Caiach) a prisoner. De Clare built other castles on the northern fringes of his territory for the same purpose, such as Castell Coch. He had seized the upland district of Senghenydd, in which Caerphilly lies, from the Welsh in 1266 to act as a buffer against Llywelyn's southward ambitions. Llywelyn realised the threat and tried but failed to prevent the castle from being built; it was begun on 11 April 1268. In 1270 these structures were razed to the ground by the army of Llywelyn ein Llyw olaf. De Clare took his case to Henry III and arbitrator the Archbishop of York. He then seized the opportunity of the truce and resumed building the present castle on the 1st June 1271.Llywelyn again brought his army to Caerphilly, but the intervention of Henry III who urged another conference withheld another attack. This time it was completed without hindrance. Its message was not lost on Llywelyn, who retreated northwards. Apart from the remodelling of the great hall and other domestic works in 1322-6 for Hugh le Despenser, no more alterations were carried out, making it a very pure example of late 13th-century military architecture.This castle houses a collection of massive, working siege engines like trebuchets and catapults.Caerphilly is one of the greatest surviving fortress of the medieval western world. The castle's huge 30 acre site is equalized in size among British fortifications only at Windsor and perhaps Dover. With its massive gatehouses, the scale of its water defences - with no rivals anywhere in Europe - and concentric lines of defense the castle was virtually impregnable against contemporary siege methods. Built by Earl Gilbert de Clare , the castle represent a high point of medieval architecture. Striking features of this formidable fortress include the splendid Great Hall and the ruined tower - victim of subsidence - which manages to out-lean even the Tower of Pisa (Tuscany, Italy) known as "The Leaning Tower". More amazingly still, this massive engineering feat was achieved within two decades, most of the work being done between 1268 and 1271. Gilbert de Clare, Anglo-Norman Lord of Glamorgan, erected this mighty fortress to defend his threatened territories against Llywelyn the Last, Prince of Wales. Flooding a valley to create a third acre lake, he set his castle on three artificial islands, the easternmost becoming a great fortified dam while the westernmost became a walled redoubt. Both also defended the central island, the core of the stronghold. There stands a castle complete in itself, with a double "concentric" circuit of walls and four gatehouses, one, the East Inner Gatehouse, large and powerful enough to serve as an independent final refuge. Nearby is the elegant banqueting hall with its fine stone carving. This astonishing multiple fortress was often threatened but never taken, and features complex land and water defenses.

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Beaumaris Castle, Anglesey, North Wales. The most technically perfect medieval castle in Britain. Beaumaris was the last link in the chain of coastal fortresses built by King Edward I to control Wales. The site of the castle, on level ground not far from the water's edge, enabled its archirtect, Master James of St.George, to invest its concentric layout with a degree of symmetry not attained at any of its predecessors and to fill the encircling moat with a controlled supply of tidal water. However, the visitor may find the castle disappointing: it is visually less impressive than Harlech or Conwy because it fails to dominate its surroundings. The cause of the squatness of its skyline is that the castle was never completed: the great towers of the inner ward were still without their top storeys, while the turrets, which seems to have been intended to rise here in even greater profusion than at the earlier castles, were never so much as begun. Beaumaris was begun in 1295 in reaction to a Welsh rising on a site, midway by sea between Conwy and Caernarfon, commanding the old ferry crossing to Anglesey. The new castle was given the French name of Beau Mareys (Beautiful Marsh). At first work progressed with speed. Two thousand labourers dug the encircling moat, materials poured into the site and hundreds of masons, smiths and carpenters began raising the six towers and two huge gatehouses of the inner ward, surrounded by sixteen towered defences of the outer ward. In this time the castle had connections with the sea, the old tidal dock can still be seen, though the short channel which gave seaborne access has long since disappeared. Any attack on Beaumaris would have presented formidable problems: the original water filled moat forms the first line of defence, followed by a ring of outer walls and a series of evenly spaced towers. Should the attackers overcome these obstacles they would then be caught in deadly crossfire from archers and crossbowmen positioned on the next series of walls and towers protecting the central core. But soon the King's attention was distracted and funds and supplies faltered. When work petered out some thirty years later, Beaumaris was in the state that we can see today: a magnificent incomplete white elephant and the ultimate memorial to master James of St.George. With its fourteen successive barriers between outer gate and inner ward, its hundreds of cleverly positioned arrow slits, its 'murder-holes', wall passages and uniquely designed latrines, Beaumaris is perhaps the most fascinating of all Edward's castles to explore.

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Harlech - Gwynedd, North Wales. Harlech Castle was built late in the 13th century by hundreds of laborers and craftsmen from Savoy, Ireland, who worked with blacksmiths and carpenters from all over England. These workers created a nearly impregnable fortress that was defended by concentric fortifications and protected on three sides by cliffs. Attackers faced a maze of gates, loopholes and portcullises. Harlech Castle would become known as the "castle of lost causes," where never-say-die soldiers could defy thousands of besiegers. Harlech formed part of a bold military strategy and its power and might are unquestioned even today, 700 years after the castle was built. Set on its towering rock above Tremadog bay, Harlech is the most dramatically sited of all the castles raised by Edward I to overawe Wales. Its soaring walls and towers are challenged for supremacy only by the purple mass of distant Snowdon Mountain. These rugged peaks played a large part in determining Harlech's siting as one of the so-called 'Iron Ring' of fortresses, built to contain the Welsh in their mountain fastness. The castle was designed by the brillant James of St.George, it was raised between 1283 and 1290 by an army of craftsmen and labourers: at one stage nearly a thousand men were hard at work here. They came from far and wide: masons from Savoy and Ireland, carpenters and blacksmiths from all over England. Between them they created a seemingly impregnable fortress, naturally protected on three sides by cliffs and defended by concentric lines of mutually supporting fortifications. The castle's great glory is the massive, twin towered gatehouse:  attackers who reach it, a stronghold in itself, must penetrate its devilish complex of gates, portcullies and loopholes. No wonder Harlech became the castle of lost causes, where diehard garrisons could defy thousands of besiegers. The defences of Harlech Castle were first tested in 1294 when a 37 strong garrison fought off Welsh besiegers led by Madog. In the next century the castle became neglected but was repaired before the occasion of the revolt led by Owain Glyndwr. After a long and grim siege Harlech was captured by Owain in 1404. The revolt could not be sustained, however, and the castle was recovered for the crown in 1408. A period of comparative peace was brought to an end by the Wars of the Roses. In 1460 the castle was held by Lancastrian forces and endured a siege which is said to have lasted seven years. The constable, Dafydd ap Ieuan, and his garrison held out long after other Lancastrian commanders in England and Wales had surrendered to the Yorkist faction. But it's one of history ironies that this castle, built to subdue the Welsh by an English king, was captured in 1404 by Owain Glyndwr. It was the final refuge of his Welsh patriots and later of Welsh Lancastrians. Harlech Castle enjoyed 200 years of peace but became a testament to the genius of the designer, Master James, when it endured a further long siege in the first part of the Civil War. It finally surrendered to Oliver Cromwell's forces in 1647. Harlech was the very last Royalist stronghold to fall during the Civil War. It was during a heroic resistance to a nearly decade-long siege that inspired the song "Men of Harlech." This castle was the last Royalist stronghold that fell to Cromwell's forces during the Civil War, and is later became the headquarters of Owain Glyndwr, the Welsh resistance leader. Picturesque views of the sea and mountains can be seen from this medieval castle's impressive natural setting. The foundation of this fortress is set on a towering rock above Tremadog Bay. Harlech Castle is linked with Welsh myth in stories of the tragic heroine of Branwen, the daughter of Llyr, of the Mabinogion.

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Pembroke - Castell Penfro Dyfed, Pembrokeshire, South Wales. The castle's location, on a ridge, surrounded on three sides by the tidal River Cleddau, make it a formidable stronghold. The history of the site goes back at least to the Roman period, although there are no tangible signs available at present. In the middle ages, Pembroke was strategically important. It was one of the main ports for traveling to Ireland and the seat of the earls of Pembroke, with a castle that was one of the strongest in the kingdom. Both the town and the castle developed and were fortified toghether. The first Norman settlement was established in 1093, when Roger de Montgomery ordered the construction of a wooden fortress on the rocky peninsula where the stone castle now stands. This stone castle was developed in the following years and was largely the work of William Marshal, Earl of Pembroke, who held the fortress until his death in 1219. Pembroke Castle became a powerful medieval fortress late in the 12th century, and is one of the largest castles in Wales. Pembroke's enormous round keep is one of the largest in Wales and is topped with a stone dome. It was then extended and improved upon by all the succeeding Earls of Pembroke. The Earldom of Pembroke was created by King Stephen for Gilbert de Clare, one of the main figures in the conquest of Ireland and husband of Eva, the King of Leinster's daughter. Gilbert de Clare had two sons, the elder, Richard, succeeded him to become the second Earl in 1148. Richard died in 1176, leaving his only daughter, Isabel as a ward of Henry II, who married her to William Marshal in 1184. As a result of the marriage Marshal became Earl in 1189. Marshal was a powerful figure in both England and Wales, being a crusader and a loyal follower of Henry II, then Richard I and John. Moreover Marshal was Regent to Henry III during the King's childhood. Perhaps Marshal's greatest bequest to Pembroke was the Great Round Tower and a great deal of the Inner Ward. William was succeeded by his five sons. The marshal line ended in 1245 and the castle came into the hands of King Henry III's half brother, William the Valence, who again improved its defenses. In 1400 Owain Glyndwr led an insurrection against the Anglo-Norman settlers but was persuaded not to attack the town of Pembroke by the constable, who paid him a sum of money. Jasper Tudor became earl of Pembroke in 1454. He was the first owner to make the castle into something approaching a home. It was during this time that Jasper's older brother, Edmund Earl of Richmond, sent his pregnant bride to Pembroke for protection in 1456. Edmund died several months before his wife gave birth to the man who was become King of England, Henry VII. The tower in which he was born is still called Henry VII Tower. Pembroke castle continued to be connected with royalty and national politics through Henry VII and Anne Boleyn, who became Marchioness of Pembroke. This castle's massive walls are nearly 20 feet thick and it's towers rise five stories high. When Cromwell attacked the town in 1648 during a Civil War siege Cromwell unsuccessfully tried to destroy the Barbican Tower, much of the castles other structures, however, were heavily damaged  the walls of the castle were in good repair, allowing the inhabitants to withstand attack for some time. When surrender did eventually come, some lengths of the walls were demolished as a punishment. The castle never recovered from this blow. We should remember that Pembroke is one of the greatest pre-Edwardian castles in Britain and although damaged, the Keep is one of the finest examples of a round keep in the country. Pembroke has a medieval dungeon tower that includes an "oubliette." This horror was simply a hole in the ground, where prisoners were abandoned to die.

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Chepstow Castle, Monmouthshire, South Wales. the mighty fortress of Chepstow has guarded the route from England into South Wales for more than nine centuries. Its beginnings date from immediately after the Norman conquest, when the Conqueror's principal lieutenants William Fitz Osbern built the earliest surviving stone keep in Britain astride a narrow ridge high above the river Wye, that would be quite as home in the 11th century Normandy or on the Loire. Chepstow is unusual among British castles in that it was built largely of stone from the first with no primary timber phase. The famous chivalric hero William Marshall added a bailey with new-style round towers in about 1200 and, during the following century, his sons and successors extended the fortress with state of the art walls, gatehouses and barbicans, until it covered the whole ridge from end to end. The hall complex, to the right of the entrance to the castle was built by Roger Bigod III and intended as accommodation for his large household and for guests. Bigod also added the powerful "D" Tower in the southwest corner of the curtain wall. So powerful was the result that Chepstow continued in use until 1690, being finally adapted for cannon and musketry after an epic Civil War siege.

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Laugharne Castle, Carmarthenshire, south Wales. Laugharne castle stands on a low ridge overlooking the wide Taf river. One of a string of fortresses controlling the ancient road of communication along the south Wales coast line the castle as a long and chequered history. It was originated as a Norman earth and timber stronghold, mentioned in about 1116 as the castle of Robert Courtemain, (but the first record of the Norman castle is dated 1189), re-built in stone during the 13th and 14th centuries by the various successive generations of the de Brian family. Great parts of their works still survive, including the domed round keep tower and the protuding mighty gatehouse of the inner bailey constructed in a warm red-brown sandstone with distinctive green stone addictions. In the year 1488 the lordship and castle passed to the earls of Northumberland, and in 1584 to Sir John Parrott, said to have been the illegitimate son of Henry VIII. The castle was converted into a luxurious Elizabethan manor house by Perrot and reverted to its military functions only during the Civil War: after a week long siege and bombardment, it fell to a night attack of the Parliamentarian troops in the year 1644.

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Castell Conwy, Aberconwy & Colwyn, North Wales. onwy castle is one of the most picturesque of Welsh castles and a masterpiece of medieval military architecture. Conwy Castle and town walls was designed for King Edward I by Master James of St. George  and was built between 1283 and 1289.  James of St. George was a master mason summoned from mainland Europe to implement Edward's plans. He was born around 1230 and worked on a number of great European castles before starting on his massive undertaking for Edward. The beautiful Beaumaris Castle was his last design in Wales and with this he had perfected the concept of the "concentric castle".  and helped to complete the conquest of the Welsh princes in North Wales. Throughout the 13th century, the tides of war between the Welsh and English swept first one way and then the other: Gwynedd (native name of North Wales region) reached new heights of power and influence in the 1260's under the leadership of Llywelyn ap Gruffud but in the war of 1282~83 Edward I undertook to end the independence of the country. Methodically he conquered Gwynedd and the English castles still proudly standing here are a testimony to the fear and respect in which the Princes and their people were held by their conquerors. In Conwy, the castle's commanding position on a rocky outcrop overlooking the estuary dictated its very size and shape and gave it great military might. Tools and labors were commandeered from Chester to assist in its construction and the design and direction of the building were undertaken by James of St.George, the greatest military architect of the day. Taken toghether the castle and the town walls of Conwy, planned as a single unit,  are the most impressive of all the fortresses raised by King Edward I to subdue Wales. Over 1,2 km. long, the town walls defended the largest of Edward's Welsh frontier towns with their 21 towers and 3 gateways ingeniously served as a circuit breaker, allowing attackers who scaled the intervening walls to be cut off and slain. The town walls also acted as the outermost defenses of the royal castle, an imposing compact eight-towered stronghold surrounded by water on three sides. Nearest the town, the castle's own outer ward housed the garrison  then, doubly defended by town wall and outer ward, came the king's private apartments in the castle's inner ward, its tower still crowned by turrets for the royal standards. In the 15th century the castle was taken for a short period by the Welsh when two of Owain Glyndwr's lieutenants captured the town, but it was later recaptured by Lord Herbert during the War of the Roses. Conwy is said to have been captured as the result of a trick in 1401. On Good Friday, with most of the garrison at church, a carpenter gained access and admitted a group of Welsh rebels who proclaimed their allegiance to Owain Glyndwr. Most were pardoned when the castle was finally returned to the crown, others were jailed. During the Civil War, the castle was garrisoned for the King in 1646 but after a siege of three months it was taken by the Parliamentary army. In 1685, Charles II granted it to the earl of Conwy who subsequently ordered all the iron, timber and lead to be taken down for sale. Today the castle is in the care of CADW. We can walk along the town walls and admire the breathtaking views of the castle  in its idyllic setting between the blue waters of the river Conwy's estuary and the mountains of Snowdonia, that has attracted the attention of visitors, artists and writers for centuries: Conwy's triumph of medieval fortress-building is not to be missed by any visitor to Wales!

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Castell Caernarfon, Gwynedd, North Wales. The castle and town of Caernarfon were constructed as a part of Edward I bid to encompass the kingdom of Gwynedd (North Wales) within a chain of fortifications. The town was originally intended to be the seat of English government in Wales. Set on a peninsula bounded by the Menai Strait and at the heart of North Wales, Caernarfon became the English administrative centre. But Edward was not the first to found a settlement here: the Celtic tribes were long established in the area when the Romans arrived. Whilst no trace of them remain in the town, there are a number of their ruined villages in the district. The Romans constructed a fort here called Segontium after the river, which is now called Seiont. Ruins of the fort still remain on site. Caernarfon lay on the traditional route to and from Ireland, via the Menai Strait and Anglesey, a route still taken today. When the Romans withdrew at the end of the 4th century, the local tribe formed into the kingdom of Gwynedd and in this time history and legends are inextricably interlined in the saga of Mabinogion that describe the magnificence of Segontium, using it as a backdrop for the heroic actions of historic characters. With the Norman conquest we pass from obscurity to relatively well recorded fact. By 1073 a castle had been built at Caernarfon by Robert, a relative of Hugh of Avranches, the first Norman Earl of Chester. This was of the motte-and-bailey type, but unusually, the Norman occupation of the area did not last for long, because by 1115 the Welsh, as they were called by the English, had regained the area, reoccupying the motte and settling a civilian population there. The Welsh Prince Llywelyn the Great lived here at periods during his lifetime (1173-1240). But the power of the indigenous princes collapsed in 1283. In December 1282 the English army killed Llywelyn ap Gruffud, Prince of Wales. Around 14th March 1283 King Edward I arrived in Conwy, where construction of the castle began immediately. Within several months, building also began in Caernarfon and Harlech. At Caernarfon some of the building materials come from the Roman fort of Segontium, whilst other material was shipped by boat.  The architecture of Constantinople had probably inspired Edward when he was fighting there in the Crusades and the castle's grand style also underlines his imperial intentions. The walls and rectangular towers of the castle contrast with the lower town walls, which have round towers. Immensely strong as well as beautiful, this crowning glory of medieval fortress-building took nearly fifty years  to construct, and proved the costliest of Edward's castles. Following the master plan of James of St.George, craftsmen were summoned from all over England to work on the castle and Caernarfon's magnificent, still unbroken town walls.  The castle's 'Eagle Tower' was the birthplace in 1284 of a new English prince, the ill-fated Edward II. Legends says it was here that Edward I showed his baby son to the Welsh as "the native-born prince who could speak no English". In fact, Caernarfon is the nearest building Wales has to a royal palace having been owned continuously by the Crown ever since Edward I established it in 1283. Of course, the native Welsh had been banned from the town and forced to live outside the walls. The works at the castle ended in 1330. With Henry Tudor's, whose family came from Anglesey, accession to the English throne in 1485 attitudes to the Welsh changed radically, mainly because many of his courtiers were Welsh gentry. Consequently the need for expensive castles in Wales was less critical. Thus, from the 16th century onwards these fortifications became more and more neglected. During the Civil war, having been garrisoned for the King, Caernarfon was besieged three times, but escape any great damage.

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Manorbier Castle, Pembrokeshire, South-West Wales. The castle of Manorbier gives of itself an unusual vision, being one perfectly succeeded combination between beauty and functionality, residence and fortification. Superficially, the castle can be seen simply like a residence for the rich Norman owners. In all the construction there’s a touch of heat and luxury but the fortifications represent the hard truth of the relationships, sure not idyllic, between Norman invaders and the subjugate native population of Welsh language. The castle of Manorbier dominates, repaired in part from the vegetation that encircles it, the main road of the country, from which we reach the main entrance of it. The first impact is with the external courtyard, with the fortifications added during English civil war still very visible: one series of earth banks and ditches reinforced in stone acted to prevent easy advancing of the enemy. On the left, the great rectangular main door hits for its beauty. Rather simple in the design, one casts over the moat surrounding and dominates the entrance. As the greatest part of the medieval fortified doors, that one of Manorbier has many defensive characteristics: it embattled walls, portcullis, mortal embrasures and traps (openings over the passage through which solid liquids or objects came down on attackers). The relevant external simplicity point the intention of the Norman owners of the castle to don’t show the fears towards the native, but the presence of all these defenses imply the acknowledgment of the high risk that could constitute an external attack.

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Carreg Cennen, Castle Cynnodeb, Carmathenshire, South Wales. Crowning a remote crag about 100 meters above the river Cennen in the Breacon Beacons National Park, Carreg Cennen is unmatchable as a wildly romantic Welsh fortress and the most dramatically sited. Sought out by generations of artists and visitors in search of the picturesque, its origin are lost in ancient obscurity. The naturally defensible site may even have been a prehistoric hillfort, and was certainly a stronghold of the Welsh princes. The present stone castle, however, dates from around 1300, when it was built as an English outpost by one of Edward I's barons. Ingeniously adapted to its rocky hilltop, its core is a high walled, strongly towered enclosure, protected by a succession of pits,drawbridges and gatehouses. Even the natural cave beneath the castle rock, perhaps a prehistoric refuge, is incorporated into the defenses via a gallery passage and can still be explored with torches (you can ask for by the farm at the foot of the hill). Despite its strength, Carreg Cennen fell to Owain Glyndwr's Welsh insurgents, and during the War of the Roses became a base for bandit Lancastrian, diehards who terrorized the country around. The castle was taken by the Yorkists in 1462, this "robbers den" was laboriously dismantled by 500 men with picks and crowbars.

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Flint Castle, Flintshire, North Wales. The first of the castles built during Edward I's campaign to conquer Wales, Flint castle dominates a harbor on the river Dee estuary. Its construction was begun in 1277. The king arrived in Flint in July, by August nearly 3,000 men were employed in the building yard digging the ditches around the new fortification and the city. Only in 1279 the walls began to rise and in 1280 the great royal master architect James of St.James, in charge of operation at the near Rhuddlan Castle, took control over the construction of Flint. He comes too late to be credited of the castle's plan but in Flint we can find works very similar to those at Rhuddlan that we will find again in the later Edwardian castles. The curtains and the angle towers of northwest, northeast and southwest were completed in 1282, the great rounded keep of the southeast angle, a masterpiece of military architecture, continued to grow until 1286 when the works stopped, but it never reached the intended height. The castle, as all the other Edward I's castles, was built on the coast to be easiest supplied by sea and occupies a promontory that juts into the river Dee large estuary. Today the river is far from the castle walls, in the middle age it filled the moat at high tide and beside the keep was found a dock where ships berthing and this saved the castle by the attack of Dafydd ap Gruffudd in 1282 and in 1400 by the one of Owain Glyndwr. During the Civil War Flint changed hands several times. It was strongly slighted and used as a quarry for the town houses. This explain the ruinous actual condition of the complex. The outer ward in encircled by a curtain surviving only as a low wall on the dry moat. Only fragments of the Outer Gate towers remains. The inner ward is a square enclosure with circular angle towers, with one bigger and separated by the walls forming the keep. The original curtain survives only on the south and a short part of the east side and it is pierced by arrow slits as at Rhuddlan. Timber residential buildings stood against the walls. The Northeast tower is the best preserved, with four storeys connected by a spiral stair and gifted by fireplaces, windows and latrines it was surely intended to be lived in. Flint is the only Edwardian castle without a gatehouse, the entrance is a simply gateway flanked by the keep.The never completed keep is a great round tower divided by a moat from the inner curtain that curves inward to avoid it. A wooden bridge connect the two parts of the castle, formerly it was a drawbridge. The keep wall is 23 feet thick and a vaulted passage runs all around inside it starting beneath the entrance gallery, placed at ground level instead of a floor above as in other Wales' keeps. Three doors separate us from the central chamber. At the upper floor five small chamber are contained in the thick of the wall and the inner cylindrical room formed the main hall. At least one more storey must have be intended to give majesty at the keep and perhaps it rose higher before the slighting and we know that an elaborate timber gallery was built on its top in preparation for a visit of the new Prince of Wales in 1301.

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Raglan Castlr, Gwent, South Wales. Raglan castle is undoubtedly the finest late medieval fortress-palace in Britain. A lavish proclamation of the success of an entrepreneurial Welsh family, it was begun, probably on the site of a small Norman castle, during the 1430's by Sir William ap Thomas. This opportunistic veteran of the French wars raised its mighty "Yellow Tower" (yet known also as "Great Tower"), a moated stronghold equipped with up-to-date gunports and a unique hexagonal plan with elaborate double drawbridge arrangements. His still more successful son William Lord Herbert, Yorkist viceroy in Wales during the War of the Roses, added a palatial double courtyard mansion, luxurious within but defended by a formidable gatehouse and many towered walls. Like his father, he imitated fashionable French building styles and employed expert masons whose trademarks can still be seen on Raglan's finely dressed sandstone walls. Built regardless of cost and sumptuously embellished with carving, the castle became still more splendid under Herbert's Elizabethian descendants, who added a lordly banqueting hall and other fashionable apartments, hints of this splendor can be seen in the windows, the moulded roof corbels and huge fireplaces. Other notable features of the castle include the Fountain Court, the Pitched Stone Court, a buttery, pantry, Kitchen Tower, Closet Tower, office wing, South Gate, Chapel and State Apartments. Yet Raglan remained a fortress, enduring a fierce thirteen week siege during the Civil War. The strongly built Yellow Tower shrugged off bombardment by heavy artillery and when the castle surrendered to Parliament, had to be laboriously undermined before two of its six sides fells down 'in a lump'. The castle site is still dominated by the ruins of the Great Tower, originally built by Sir William ap Thomas who had fought at the Battle of Agincourt. This massive tower was designed as a place of last resort in the first half of the 15th century and its gradual additions made it virtually impregnable. Much more of the original tower would be visible today were it not for the "slighting" by the parliamentarian forces after the siege of Raglan Castle in 1646. The Great Tower was partly destroyed by artillery during the siege, but when Raglan was surrendered near the end of the Civil War, a decision was made to demolish the Tower completely. Men were set to work with pickaxes in an attempt to destroy it from the top. This failed, however and two sides were undermined until these partially collapsed.

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