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Criccieth Castle

Click to enlarge Llywelyn ap Iorwerth, Llywelyn the GreatCriccieth Castle sits on the headland overlooking Tremadog Bay in Criccieth, North Wales. It towers over the town of Criccieth to this day. The Castle was founded by the Welsh Prince Llywelyn ap Iorwerth (Llywelyn Fawr), and extended by Llywelyn ap Gruffudd (Llywelyn the Last). After the English King Edward 1's successful campaign against the Welsh in 1283 the castle was again strengthened and extended, but this time by the English invaders. It was finally destroyed, to a large part, ironically by the Welsh, during the Owain Glyndwr revolt in 1404 and was never rebuilt,

The original castle, built by Llywelyn ap Iorwerth in the early 13th Century, was a smaller but imposing structure on the summit of the hill, used as an administrative centre for the area known as Eifionydd, and as both a fortress and a prison. It consisted of 2 D shaped Gatehouse towers and a large rectangular tower on the South East. From what I have read the Gatehouse has been deemed too impressive to have been built by a mere Welshman albeit Llywelyn the Great, and many historians like to attribute it to the English King Edward's architect Master James of St George. (Well they would wouldn't they!) However latest opinion seems to favour the Welsh as being the builders if not the designers. The design was possibly based on the Gatehouse at Beeston Castle in Cheshire, built by an ally of Llywelyn ap Iorwerth in 1220. So we'll leave it at that.

Some years later probably in the 1260's Llywelyn's grandson, Llywelyn ap Gruffudd (Llywelyn the Last), greatly enlarged the Castle by building the outer ward, and covering the whole of the hilltop including two new towers on the South West and Northern corners.

Click for Criccieth CastleHowever Llywelyn the Last lost control of the castle early in 1283 during Edward the First of England's second campaign against the Welsh. As Criccieth Castle was a strongly built Castle with access from the sea it suited Edward to add Criccieth to his portfolio of Welsh properties and although he was even less popular with the Welsh than a modern day English incomer with a holiday home he spent large amounts of money rebuilding, including adding another tower to the wall of the inner ward and strengthening the "Engine Tower" (now in ruins), which served as a foundation for a siege engine.

This proved to be money well spent as within two years of its completion in 1292 Criccieth Castle withstood its first siege from Welsh rebels led by Madog ap Llywelyn. King Edward's strategy of building Castles in a position that could be supplied from the sea had proved correct as the English garrison was supplied and reinforced by ships from Ireland.

Further works took place on the Castle during the reign of King Edward the Second between 1307 and 1327 but they were to no avail when, during the Welsh rebellion led by Owain Glyndwr, the Castle was again besieged. This time Owain's French allies ruled the Irish sea and prevented the garrison from being supplied and in 1404 the garrison surrendered. Owain Glyndwr's Welsh army destroyed Criccieth Castle and the ruins were never to be rebuilt.

Directions : [ Map of Criccieth Castle location ]

You can't miss it. Drive into Criccieth and it is on top of the hill overlooking the seashore.

Click here for pictures of Criccieth town >


Please --- click on the pictures --- below for more scenes of Criccieth Castle,
© All pictures copyright Bernard Wellings

Criccieth Castle and Beach Click for opening times and entrance fees based on 2006
Criccieth Castle and Beach
Criccieth Castle opening times and entrance fees based on 2006
  View of Dolwyddelan Castle from the East through the Rowan trees

Attractions nearby including a few more ancient sites:

return to tourist attractions Map of WalesRelated tourist information links :

Criccieth > Porthmadog > Harlech >

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