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October, 2019

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When Edward I built “Caernarfon Castle,”: he also built a “walled town”: adjacent to it, establishing it as the capital and administrative centre for North Wales. It also allowed English settlers to live safely within the walls. The Welsh were only allowed to live inside the walls after 1507 when the accession of Welsh Henry Tudor to the throne brought about a lessening of hostilities between the English and the Welsh.

At a length of about half a mile, the walls “enclose”: an area of about 10 acres with a grid network of narrow streets.

It was a massive undertaking involving large numbers of labourers from across England and cost £3,500, a massive sum for the time. Originally there were eight towers with two fortified gatehouses with the west gate allowing entry from the harbour and the east from the landward side. It would originally have been protected by the Rver Cadnant which is now culverted.

In the early C19th more gateways were inserted into the walls.

With the rapid growth of Caernarfon in the C19th, the town rapidly spread outside the walls.

The walls still form an unbroken circuit around the old town, although there is no longer access to the wall walk.

The impressive County Hall building overlooks the castle and the Offices of Gwynedd County Council are still in the walled town. Streets are lined with attractive Georgian houses, many painted in pastel colours. Some of these are now B&B or guest houses. Near the castle, the pedestrianised Castle Street is lined with small specialist shops and eateries.

In the north west corner of the walls is the tiny Chapel of St Mary which was built in the C14th, although it was extensively restored in the early C19th when the southern and eastern walls were rebuilt. The west wall forms part of the town walls. It served as the chapel for the soldiers garrisoned in the castle. The large round tower originally provided accommodation for the chaplain and housed the sacristy. It is now the vestry.

The old walled town is a compact area and attractive to walk round – both inside and outside the walls.


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