arlech Castle is one of a group of castles built by Edward I in Wales. Begun in 1283 this castle was designed and built by James of St. George, a master castle builder employed for his castle building skills by the King. The castle is built on an outcrop of rock standing some 200 feet above the Tremadoc Bay which is part of Cardigan Bay on the west coast of Wales. In medieval times the sea would have washed up at the base of the outcrop of rock, but since then the sea has receded to form a broad sandy shoreline. This castle is concentric and has three sets of walled enclosures one inside the other. The inner walls being much taller than the outer. Caerphilly in South Wales and Beaumaris on Anglesey are other examples of concentric castles. The outermost walls at Harlech follow the contours of the edge of the rocky crag. On the seaward side of the castle is a steep path originally defended by a gatehouse and drawbridge.

The castle was captured by the Welsh as part of the revolt of Owain Glyndwr in 1404. Owain then used the castle as his base of operations against the English. The English besieged the castle in 1407 and the siege lasted until 1409 when the revolt came to an end.


Harlech Castle Key Facts
CountyGwynedd (7 castles)
DirectionsIn the town of Harlech on the A496
CategoriesEdward I / Concentric / Cliff-top
Built on top of a 200 foot high outcrop of rock overlooking the Tremadoc Bay.
OwnershipRoyal castle
RemainsExcellent remains
Access to siteOnly open at certain times
TimeRef Rating
TimeRef Comments
Along with Caernarvon Castle one of the best castles to visit in Wales.


YearMonthEvent
1283 Mar  Castle Criccieth captured
 Edward moved around the Welsh coast to attack and capture the Welsh castle at Criccieth. He then moved on and ordered another castle to be built at Harlech. In the summer of 1283 King Edward provided money to improved the defences at Criccieth Castle. [1]

Episode: Edward I and Wales  
 May  Harlech Castle begun
 Work began on Harlech Castle. Money for the construction being moved from Cymer Abbey a few miles to the south of the new castle's location.

Episode: Edward I and Wales  
1404   Harlech Castle siege
 The Welsh captured Harlech Castle and the fortress became the base for Owain Glyndwr's revolt.

Episode: Glendowers Revolt  
1407   Harlech Castle siege
 The English besiege the Welsh in Harlech Castle.

Episode: Glendowers Revolt  
1409 Mar  Harlech falls to the English
 The Welsh in Harlech Castle surrender to the English and the revolt of Welsh comes to an end. Edmund Mortimer was killed.

Episode: Glendowers Revolt  
1460 Summer  Queen Margaret flees to Wales
 After the Lancastrian defeat at Northampton, Queen Margaret and her son Edward escaped to Wales and the safety of Harlech Castle.[2]

Episode: Wars of the Roses  
1464 Jun  Herbert becomes Constable of Harlech
 William Herbert was given the title of Constable of Harlech Castle by Edward IV and told to capture the castle from the Lancatrians. But the castle was strongly fortified and a lengthy seige began. [3]

Episode: Wars of the Roses  
1468 Jul  Jasper Tudor's invasion
 King Louis provider Jasper Tudor, the Earl of Pembroke, with three ships and fifty soldiers to invade Wales. The small invasion force planned to gain support against Edward IV and help the Lancastrian garrison trapped at Harlech Castle. The castle was surrounded by the English so Pembroke attacked and occupied Denbigh gaining many supporters. Lord Herbert was dispatched to deal with the threat and defeated Pembroke who managed to escape.

Episode: Wars of the Roses  

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