Conwy Castle and Walled Town.
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"Conwy is incomparably the most magnificent of Edward 1's Welsh fortresses."

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View from the Afon Gyffin showing the Baker's Tower and the repairs from the 19th century.
To the Welsh people Conwy and the other Edwardian Castles can be seen as either shameful memorials to their subjugation by the English King or, when we consider that the medieval military architect's science and art at the height of their development were necessary to ensure that subjection, we can appreciate them as monuments, tributes, to the tenacity of the resistance of the Welsh, as testimony to the immensity of the task of uprooting from Wales the rule of the Welsh.
I simply enjoy them as beautiful castles, and appreciate the work done by the ordinary folk, be they welsh or english, who built these marvellous structures all those years ago..
The story of the castle and walled town of Conwy begins in the year 1283.
King Edward 1 and his English army had completed the conquest of Snowdonia and terminated the rule of the Welsh princes. On 18 January 1283 the capture of Dolwyddelan Castle gave Edward the control of the Conwy valley and he moved to Conwy in March of
1283. Here the monastery of Aberconwy, the spiritual heart of Gwynnedd and the burial place of Llewelyn the Great, was destroyed and a new home for the monks was built at Maenan some 8 miles away. All that remained was the unfinished abbey church, St Mary and All Saints, which was to become the parish church of the new town, which it still remains.

Conwy castle was to be built above the original tomb of Llewelyn the Great.

Edward immediately set about organising the building of the Castle. Under the supervision of James of St George and his associate at Conwy James of Chester, the Master carpenters Henry of Oxford and Laurence of Canterbury and Mason John Francis had charge over a force of English craftsmen and labourers that reached a peak of 1500 strong in the summer of 1285, and within 4 short years this " the most magnificent of Edward 1's Castles" would be substantially complete.

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Bakehouse, and King's Tower

The Chapel Tower

Prison and Bakehouse Tower

The cost to Edward of building Conwy was near to 15,000, indeed the cost of the five major Castles - Caernarfon, Conwy, Harlech, Cricieth, and Beaumaris - built after the war of 1282 - 3 and the revolt of 1294 was around 60,000. The total cost to Edward for his Welsh campaigns and Castle building was in the region of a third of a million pounds. More than ten times his annual income. That he went to the bank , the Riccardi Company of Tuscany to borrow the money ( 122,000 between the years of 1276 and 1287 specifically to finance his Welsh campaign ) I personally find very surprising and reveals a sophistication of the times of which I was previously unaware. It has been said that the increase in the banker's business due to the conquest of Wales was a considerable factor in the growth of international capitalism.

The Kitchen tower.

The North wall.

The Building Materials:

The stone used for the main part in the construction of the Castle and Walls is the hard grey Silurian grit of which the Castle rock itself is formed.There is a large quarry on the Llangelynin road, not far outside the Upper Gate which may have been the source.
The yellowish brown "rhyolite" rock used in the spur wall and in the northern and eastern parts of the town walls could have been obtained from nearby at Bodlondeb Hill or Conwy Mountain.
Pinkish sandstone probably from the nearby Creuddyn peninsular across the river is the likely source of the stones dressed to form the windows, door-jambs, arrow loops , chimneys etc. While sandstone from Chester is known to have been used in the construction of the 14th century roof arches.

Timber would have been brought down river from Trefriw and beyond, and the lead and coal for the forges came by sea from near Flint. Iron and steel and nails were purchased at Newcastle under Lyme. Sand for the mortar was brought from over the river at Deganwy. Purple slate may have come from Ogwen or by cart from nearby Llangelynin. Simon the Glazier from Chester may have supplied the glass as he had at Caernarfon.

Map of Conwy Castle location

Visit the Walled town of Conwy

Conwy Castle and the Glyndwr Rebellion

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Copyright 1998 - 2008 Bernard Wellings this page was designed by walesdirectory.co.uk walesdirectory home page.

Acknowledgements:

Conwy Castle and Town Walls by A. Taylor, Cadw Guidebook (Cardiff 1990).

A History of Wales by John Davies.( Yawn!! ) Allen Lane, The Penguin Press.