Welcome to Harlech Castle!
After giving the Welsh government about $16 Canadian you enter right through the front doors of the castle. It is amazing to think of all the history and people over the years that would have entered through these doors; Kings, Queens, Princes and a guy from Canada that takes selfies at the highest location.
After entering the castle grounds you are free to explore the entire castle, or at least what is left of this world heritage site. This castle is interesting as it was built in only 6 years…
Way back, in 1283, King Edward ordered 4 new castles be built in Wales in order to help secure his rule over the area. He wanted them built as quickly as possible. I’ll explain why in a bit.
The location for the Harlech Castle was selected as it is close to the sea but also up on a cliff which should in theory make it easier to protect the castle from attacks. But that may not have worked as there were 5 siege attempts on this castle, 4 were successful and only 1 was stopped. But hey, at the least the views would have been good! Side note, when the castle was built, the sea was right below it, but due to changes in the coast line, it is now 800m from the coast.
So how do you build an entire castle in 6 years? Initially there were:
– 560 infantry laborers
– 25 masons
– 6 sawyers
After 3 years of building, it was determined that progress wasn’t fast enough so the crew was increased to:
– 227 masons
– 30 blacksmiths
– 22 carpenters
– 546 laborers
Total cost to build this castle, in case you are thinking of doing the same, was roughly 9500 Great Britain Pounds, which would be about 5 million GBP today. So your choice, a castle in Wales, or a small condo in Toronto, they cost the same.
You are free to walk right around the top of the castle walls. Which naturally, calls for the traditional summit selfie.
As mentioned earlier, there were 5 siege attempts on the castle, with two more notable instances. In 1294, shortly after the castle was built the Welsh revolted against the English, mostly due to high taxes. A fellow named Madog ap Llywelyn declared himself the prince of Wales and led a rebellion against the English. Our man Madog held on for over a year but eventually the English prevailed and Madog spent the rest of his life in the Tower of London… jail.
The other notable battle occurred in 1646 between King Charles I and parliamentarian forces. After a year long battle, the parliamentarian forces won and ousted King Charles from the Harlech Castle. Typically, when a castle was defeated, the order was given to destroy it so that the King could not return and use it again. Fortunately for Harlech, this order was ignored for reasons unknown and the castle still stands today.
Surrounding the castle nestled into the same cliffs that don’t seem to offer much advantage in a battle is the town of Harlech. Home to about 1200 people today
A look at the town of Harlech today from the castle.
After learning some stuff and contemplating a siege on the castle myself (as the odds seemed pretty good I would win), we decided instead to pile back into the Nissan and head on to the next spot.

1 Comment

Teditor · June 18, 2024 at 12:00 am

The stone construction and structure is incredible, thanks for the history lesson.

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