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Interior de la puerta de entrada, castillo de Harlech

Interior de la puerta de entrada, castillo de Harlech


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Los castillos de Eduardo I

Después de su conquista de Gales, Eduardo I construyó un formidable círculo de castillos de hierro, a unos días de distancia, para defender sus adquisiciones de la rebelión galesa. Después de la primera campaña de Edward en Gales, cuando logró aislar a su adversario, Llywelyn el Último en Snowdonia y Anglesey, el rey inglés erigió los castillos de Flint, Rhuddlan, Builth Wells y Aberystwyth. Después del fracaso del segundo levantamiento de Llywelyn en 1282, el Anillo de Hierro se amplió para incluir castillos en Conwy, Caernarfon y Beaumaris.

Castillo de Caernarfon

Comandante del castillo de Caernarfon está situado en el extremo sur del estrecho de Menai entre el norte de Gales y Anglesey, y se encuentra a ocho millas al suroeste de la ciudad de Bangor.

Castillo de Caernarfon

La construcción del castillo comenzó en 1283, después de que las fuerzas inglesas tomaran el corazón de Snowdonia. El castillo fue construido bajo la dirección del maestro arquitecto de Eduardo I, el Maestro James de San Jorge, fue diseñado no solo como un bastión militar sino también como sede del gobierno y palacio real y tenía la intención de hacer eco de las murallas de Constantinopla. que Edward había visto durante la cruzada durante los últimos años de su padre, el reinado de Enrique III. Junto a la desembocadura del río Seiont, en un punto estratégicamente importante, el castillo cuenta con torres poligonales únicas, almenas intimidantes y mampostería con bandas de colores y domina la ciudad amurallada de Caernarfon.

El costo de construcción ascendió a 22.000 libras esterlinas, una suma considerable para la época. El castillo nunca se completó, y un examen cuidadoso revelará juntas visibles en varios lugares de las paredes internas, que estaban destinadas a aceptar más paredes que nunca se construyeron.

El cuarto hijo de Eduardo I y eventual heredero, el desafortunado Eduardo II, nació en el castillo de Caernarfon el día de San Marcos, el 25 de abril de 1284.

Durante el levantamiento de Gales de 1294, Madog ap Llywellyn capturó el castillo, Edward respondió rápidamente y lo volvió a tomar en 1295. Fue sitiado durante el reinado de Enrique IV durante la revuelta del líder y patriota galés Owen Glendower en 1403 y 1404. Durante el Guerra civil, el castillo fue entregado a los Roundheads de Cromwell en 1646.

El castillo de Caernarfon fue el lugar para la investidura del futuro Eduardo VIII (más tarde duque de Windsor) como Príncipe de Gales en 1911 y en julio de 1969, la del Príncipe Carlos, ambas fueron ceremonias fastuosas. Se hizo una corona especial con motivo de la investidura del Príncipe Carlos, Anthony, Conde de Snowdon, el entonces esposo de su tía, la Princesa Margarita, diseñó el moderno dosel de metacrilato sobre el estrado. El conde de Snowdon fue nombrado alguacil del castillo en 1963.

El castillo de Caernarfon ahora es propiedad de CADW y alberga el museo del regimiento de los Royal Welch Fusiliers.

Castillo de Conway

Magnífico Castillo de Conway, ha sido descrito como "una de las grandes fortalezas de la Europa medieval", y es sin duda uno de los más impresionantes de los castillos galeses.

Castillo de Conway

El castillo fue construido en el sitio de un monasterio galés anterior, fundado por el príncipe galés Llewelyn Fawr y fue diseñado por el maestro arquitecto-albañil del rey, James de St. George, que se construyó entre 1283-1289.

El castillo se encuentra en una posición estratégica encaramado en una roca y domina el estuario de Conwy, al acercarse transmite una profunda sensación de fuerza e inexpugnabilidad. Conwy Castle fue uno de los proyectos más caros de Eduardo I y originalmente tenía una capa de cal.

El castillo brinda al visitante la oportunidad de caminar por las partes superiores de los altos muros cortina, desde los cuales las vistas sobre la ciudad, sus murallas medievales y el estuario de Conwy son impresionantes.

Conwy se asemeja superficialmente a un castillo concéntrico, pero más exactamente es lineal, y tiene ocho torres y dos barbacanas, con muros de 4,6 metros (quince pies) de espesor en algunos lugares. La forma del castillo fue dictada en gran parte por la roca sobre la que fue construido. El pabellón interior contiene apartamentos construidos para Eduardo I y su consorte, Leonor de Castilla en 1283. El interior del castillo no es tan completo como Caernarfon. Las enormes torres miden más de 9,1 metros (30 pies) de diámetro con paredes de hasta 4,6 metros (15 pies) de espesor. En altura, suman unos 70 pies y contienen varios pisos equipados con habitaciones y escaleras.

Castillo de Conway

La rebelión entre los galeses estalló en 1294 encabezada por el príncipe Madog, que resultó en el daño de varios de los castillos de Edward. Marchó a Gales al frente de un ejército para reprimir la rebelión, donde instaló su cuartel general en Conwy. Poco después, se instaló dentro del castillo cuando el río Conwy se desbordó, atrapando a los ingleses dentro del castillo durante varios días. Los suministros de alimentos y agua se redujeron peligrosamente antes de que el agua finalmente retrocediera.

El castillo de Conwy degeneró en un estado de deterioro una generación después de su finalización. Las reparaciones y modificaciones fueron realizadas por Edward, el Príncipe Negro, en el siglo XIV.

El castillo fue asediado durante el levantamiento galés de 1294. El rey Ricardo II permaneció allí a su regreso de Irlanda en 1399, hasta que el conde de Northumberland lo atrajo en nombre de su primo y rival por el trono, Enrique de Bolingbroke. Northumberland juró en la capilla del castillo otorgar a Richard un pasaje seguro, pero se retractó de su juramento y lo encarceló en Flint.

A principios del siglo XVII, el castillo había caído en tal estado de deterioro que fue vendido en 1628 por solo cien libras al vizconde de Conway. Durante el período de la Guerra Civil Inglesa, fue fortificado y defendido por el arzobispo realista de York, pero luego de un asedio que duró tres meses, fue tomado por Roundheads de Cromwell.

El castillo ahora es propiedad de CADW (The Welsh Historic Trust) Se realizan regularmente exhibiciones que representan la vida en el castillo en la época medieval. También hay una maqueta del castillo y la ciudad de Conwy en exhibición en la torre de la capilla.

Castillo de Harlech

Ubicado dramáticamente en lo alto de un afloramiento rocoso escarpado, el castillo de Harlech está defendido en su lado que da al mar por acantilados escarpados que caen hasta el mar de Irlanda, mientras que un foso brinda protección a los otros tres lados. En la época de Eduardo I, el mar llegaba hasta el pie de los acantilados con una escalera que partía del mar.

Castillo de Harlech

La construcción del castillo comenzó en 1283 y se completó en 1290. El castillo tiene un diseño concéntrico con un muro cortina interior con grandes torres redondas en cada una de las esquinas, y un perímetro exterior de muros mucho más bajos que rodean el patio exterior. Los muros interiores albergaban los edificios domésticos, que incluyen un gran salón, una capilla, una panadería, un granero y un salón más pequeño. Una enorme puerta de entrada protege el lado más vulnerable del castillo.

La puerta de entrada es la estructura más impresionante dentro del patio interior. Similar a una torre del homenaje, la estructura de tres pisos tiene dos torres formadas a cada lado del pasaje de entrada, y a cada lado hay dos salas de guardia. Dos torres cilíndricas más pequeñas se proyectan en el patio interior, la puerta de entrada también contenía alojamiento doméstico.

El líder galés Madog ap Llywelyn lanzó un ataque infructuoso contra el castillo durante su rebelión de 1294-5, pero en 1404 Owen Glendower logró capturarlo, celebró un parlamento allí y durante un tiempo sirvió como su capital antes de ser retomada por los Inglés en 1408

Durante las Guerras de las Rosas, el castillo de Harlech fue objeto de un largo asedio que duró siete años, el castillo fue el último en resistir por la causa de Lancaster. Finalmente, el hambre y el hambre obligaron a los defensores a rendirse, y Dafydd ap Ieuan, el alguacil, entregó el castillo a su oponente yorkista Lord Herbert. La canción Men of Harlech fue escrita para conmemorar a los defensores de la guarnición.

El castillo sufrió un asedio más largo en la primera parte de la Guerra Civil cuando se mantuvo a favor de la causa realista. Finalmente se rindió a las fuerzas de Roundhead en 1647.

Castillo de Rhuddlan

Aunque no es tan famoso como algunos de sus vecinos más ilustres, el castillo de Rhuddlan en Flintshire es impresionante.

Castillo de Rhuddlan

Ubicada junto al río Clwyd, que permitía traer provisiones a través de un canal construido específicamente para ese propósito, que fue una empresa verdaderamente gigantesca para la época que involucró a 1.800 zanjadoras, la arenisca Rhudlan fue la primera fortaleza concéntrica construida por Eduardo I y cuenta con una simetría impresionante. . La sala interior en forma de diamante tiene un muro cortina alto, flanqueado en los ángulos con enormes puertas de entrada de cuatro pisos de dos torres y torres redondas. Una amplia zanja protege la estrecha sala exterior octogonal. La construcción comenzó en 1277 y el castillo se completó en 1282.

El castillo de Rhuddlan fue el escenario de la firma del Estatuto de Rhuddlan en 1284. El Estatuto reemplazó el estado de derecho galés por el estado de derecho inglés y entró en vigor tras la derrota de Llywelyn el Último. El asentamiento duró hasta el Acta de Unión de 1536, durante el reinado de Enrique VIII.

El castillo de Rhuddlan fue tomado durante la Guerra Civil, y poco después se hizo mucho daño a la tela. Las ruinas se deterioraron aún más, gran parte de la piedra se quitó de los edificios locales. Los trabajos de conservación comenzaron en 1947. El castillo ahora es propiedad de CADW

Castillo de Beaumaris

El castillo inacabado de Beaumaris, ubicado en la isla de Anglesey, a 6 km al noreste del puente de Menai, fue la última de las grandes fortalezas construidas por el rey Eduardo I para controlar Gales. El nombre Beaumaris se deriva del francés para bello pantano, le beau Marais.

Castillo de Beaumaris

El castillo se inició en 1295, tras la sofocación del levantamiento galés bajo Madog Ap Llywelyn y se extendió por más de 35 años. El arquitecto de Edward, James of St George, aportó toda su considerable experiencia y creatividad en su diseño, la empresa más grande y ambiciosa que jamás emprendió y es un ejemplo perfecto de un castillo planificado concéntricamente.

El maestro James de St. George fue un artesano importado por Edward de Europa, aunque más tarde adoptó un nombre anglicanizado. Edward apreciaba mucho su trabajo y le pagaba la enorme suma de tres chelines al día (un trabajador en ese momento ganaba alrededor de un chelín por semana). El arquitecto también recibió una mansión en Gales. El ambicioso proyecto requirió una gran fuerza laboral. Probablemente se emplearon alrededor de 2.500 obreros en la construcción del castillo, que incluyó alrededor de 400 canteros expertos para cortar y colocar la piedra.

El castillo tiene un anillo interior de defensas rodeado por un circuito exterior inferior de murallas, con la defensa añadida de un foso, atravesado por un puente levadizo. Un atacante habría tenido que superar catorce obstáculos importantes separados para ganar la entrada, hay cientos de ranuras de flecha hábilmente ubicadas y agujeros de asesinato mortales para defender las entradas. Las entradas a los muros exterior e interior están escalonadas, lo que significa que si un enemigo traspasaba las defensas exteriores, tendría que girar bruscamente y enfrentarse a andanadas asesinas desde los muros del castillo antes de llegar a la puerta interior.

El muro cortina del Inner Ward tiene una torre en cada esquina, más una torre central en las paredes este y oeste, y una puerta norte y una puerta sur con dos torres. El interior del castillo contiene una hermosa capilla, y hoy alberga una exposición sobre castillos eduardianos en Gales.

A pesar de las enormes sumas de dinero que se gastaron en su construcción, el castillo de Beaumaris nunca se completó y las importantes defensas de Beaumaris nunca se pusieron a prueba. La conquista de Gales por parte de Eduardo I estaba prácticamente completa en el momento de la construcción y, a diferencia de muchos otros de sus castillos galeses, nunca fue objeto de ataques durante la Guerra Civil.

El castillo está gestionado por CADW y está catalogado como un sitio inscrito como Patrimonio de la Humanidad.


Castillo de Harlech

Cualquier proyecto de construcción tiene sus complejidades únicas y un proyecto que incluye renovación y rehabilitación, construcción de nueva construcción y la implementación de una variedad de técnicas sostenibles y de ahorro de energía, no es una excepción. Pero en el caso del Castillo de Harlech en Gwenedd, Gales, el primero tuvo que lograrse en un edificio, junto a un monumento antiguo programado, en un sitio del Patrimonio Mundial de la UNESCO, en un área de conservación en el borde de un Sitio de Especial Interés Científico. (SEIC), dentro de un Parque Nacional. Un contrato de construcción estándar de JCT con cantidades 2011 proporcionó la solución del contrato.

El castillo de Harlech está considerado como uno de los castillos medievales más importantes de Gales y es un ejemplo de libro de texto del diseño de castillo concéntrico. Fue construido por Eduardo I como parte de su campaña para conquistar el principado galés de Gwynedd en la Edad Media. Las principales estructuras del castillo se completaron entre 1283 y 1289.

Harlech pertenece a un grupo de castillos reales diseñados por el arquitecto e ingeniero jefe de Eduardo I, James of St. George. Los diseños de James of St. George se encuentran entre los ejemplos más sofisticados e innovadores de ingeniería militar en Europa. Harlech cuenta con dos anillos de muros y torres, con una puerta de entrada al este inmensamente fuerte. Inexpugnable desde casi todos los ángulos, su arma secreta era una escalera de 200 pies (61 m) de largo que todavía conduce desde el castillo hasta la base del acantilado. En 1987, el castillo de Harlech fue designado como Patrimonio de la Humanidad por la UNESCO.

En 2009, reconociendo el valor de Harlech como destino turístico, Cadw (el Servicio de Medio Ambiente Histórico del Gobierno de Gales) quería reformar la experiencia del visitante mediante el desarrollo y la mejora de las instalaciones circundantes para proporcionar una atracción patrimonial de clase mundial. Con fondos del Heritage Tourism and Convergence Funding Project (financiado conjuntamente por el Gobierno de Gales y los Fondos de Convergencia de la Unión Europea), Cadw nombró a RL Davies & amp Son Ltd para llevar a cabo las obras.

El proyecto consistió en remodelar el Harlech Castle Hotel (un antiguo hotel victoriano de 3 pisos) y convertirlo para albergar 5 apartamentos de lujo, una nueva área de visitantes, una nueva tienda minorista y oficinas. También se realizó la construcción de nueva construcción de una subestación eléctrica, sala de máquinas, salón de té y bloque de baños. El proyecto se completó con un puente de nueva construcción de 47 m que une el centro de visitantes con la entrada del castillo.

El Harlech Castle Hotel original fue construido en 1876 por Samuel Holland, propietario y empresario local de una cantera. Tras la construcción del ferrocarril en 1867, el hotel ayudó a establecer la ciudad de Harlech como un lugar de vacaciones. El edificio ha sido diseñado para incorporar las vistas del Castillo y el Parque Nacional de Snowdonia.

El edificio victoriano ha sido cuidadosamente restaurado y adaptado para un uso moderno. El edificio se ha vuelto a techar con pizarra galesa reciclada. El antiguo apuntalamiento de mortero a base de cemento se ha sustituido por mortero de cal, permitiendo que el edificio vuelva a respirar. Internamente, las paredes han sido despojadas de cemento y yeso de cardo y reemplazadas con yeso de cal. Las nuevas obras interiores se han diseñado y construido de forma deliberada, pero sensible, para proporcionar contraste.

La ampliación de nueva construcción sustituye a una construcción de los años 80 de mala calidad. El marco de madera laminada expuesta con paneles de relleno de vidrio expansivos ofrece vistas espectaculares a través de la cordillera de Snowdonia y proporciona un vínculo con el paisaje.

Si bien el hotel brindaba un excelente acceso y control para los visitantes diarios, el edificio tenía dos pisos superiores que superaban los requisitos de Cadw. Las conversaciones con Visit Wales identificaron una escasez de alojamientos de 4 a 5 estrellas en la zona. Estos pisos se convirtieron en lujosos alojamientos independientes con oportunidades de concesión ofrecidas a empresas locales.

Durante los estudios previos a la construcción, se descubrió que el nivel del umbral del hotel era menos de un metro diferente del nivel de la entrada del castillo. Esto brindó una oportunidad, a través de la construcción de la nueva extensión, para crear un acceso nivelado entre los dos puntos.

Cualquier obra de puente entre el centro de visitantes y la entrada del castillo estaría sujeta a criterios de diseño demostrables, si se desea obtener la aprobación de la Autoridad del Parque Nacional de Snowdonia (SNPA) y la UNESCO.

Uno de los grandes desafíos para el proyecto, tanto en términos de la naturaleza de las obras como de la ubicación, fue trabajar dentro de los límites de un sitio del Patrimonio Mundial de la UNESCO. El proyecto requirió la entrega de una combinación cuidadosa de conservación, remodelación, reconstrucción y nueva construcción. Para las obras del puente, se requirió un período de 18 meses de modelado y consulta con la Comisión de Diseño de Gales, SNPA, UNESCO y la comunidad local, con el fin de obtener la aprobación necesaria de planificación y diseño.

La solución para el puente fue crear una estructura de celosía de acero en forma de "S" de 47 m con conexiones visuales mínimas entre los vanos y el suelo. La estructura liviana y delgada conecta con simpatía y sensibilidad las nuevas instalaciones para visitantes con el antiguo tejido del castillo del siglo XIII. Por primera vez en 600 años, los visitantes de todas las habilidades pueden acceder al castillo como se pretendía originalmente.

Otro desafío para el equipo del proyecto, descubierto durante la excavación de los cimientos de la ampliación de la nueva construcción, fueron los entierros humanos desenterrados, incluidos 13 cadáveres que datan del siglo XV, así como los restos de dos edificios, fachada de calle medieval y asociados. características. En un momento, el proyecto empleó a seis arqueólogos a tiempo completo.

Uno de los impulsores importantes de este proyecto es, dentro de los límites de la restauración sensible de un hotel victoriano, el compromiso con la sostenibilidad en la construcción y el funcionamiento del edificio, junto con una serie de características y técnicas de construcción innovadoras y de bajo impacto:

Transpirabilidad

Los muros de piedra maciza del antiguo edificio no son impermeables & # 8211 cuando llueve algo de agua es absorbida por la piedra y el mortero. Las paredes exteriores se han rematado con un mortero de cal transpirable y las paredes interiores se han cubierto con un revoque de cal transpirable y pintura especial. Los materiales permiten que el agua se escape y ayudan a que las paredes se sequen si se mojan.

El edificio ha sido bien aislado para reducir la pérdida de calor al exterior. Los grandes ventanales que dan al castillo también tienen doble acristalamiento.

Techo verde y tanque de atenuación de aguas pluviales

Las plantas en el techo de la extensión de nueva construcción absorben CO2 y liberan oxígeno. El techo verde también proporciona un aislamiento adicional que mantiene el edificio cálido en invierno y fresco en verano. Las variedades de plantas para el techo verde se seleccionan especialmente localmente con el fin de fomentar las especies de insectos autóctonos. El techo verde tiene la función adicional de recoger el agua de lluvia en un gran tanque de atenuación y posteriormente en un arroyo que corre por debajo del aparcamiento. En caso de tormenta, el tanque ralentiza el flujo de agua hacia el arroyo y reduce la posibilidad de inundaciones aguas abajo.

Cajas para murciélagos y cajas para pájaros

En los aleros del edificio se han instalado cajas de descanso para murciélagos, que se calientan y están hechas de material específicamente diseñado con la humedad y el clima adecuados para alentar a los murciélagos. También se han instalado cajas para pájaros para alentar a las especies de aves más pequeñas a reproducirse dentro y alrededor del edificio. El proyecto en sí está en el límite de un "sitio de especial interés científico (SEIC)", por lo que es importante establecer vínculos estrechos con el entorno natural.

El edificio utiliza iluminación LED combinada con un sistema de control de escena único & # 8211 que combina la eficiencia energética con una selección de matrices de luces estéticamente agradables. El sistema es más rápido, más preciso y más fácil de cambiar para adaptarse al entorno que la conmutación manual convencional.

Casi 30m² de paneles fotovoltaicos generan electricidad para el edificio, proporcionando un recurso energético sostenible a largo plazo. El uso de una bomba de calor con fuente de aire en lugar del suministro de gas de tanque de propano existente ha mejorado la eficiencia y reducido los costos. La combinación del ASHP con un sistema de calefacción por suelo radiante reduce aún más la huella de carbono del edificio.

Una gran parte de la fabricación de la iluminación es carbono neutral, logrado mediante la plantación de árboles localmente para compensar el carbono producido durante el proceso de fabricación.

El proyecto recibió una calificación BREEAM "muy buena" en la etapa de diseño y está en camino de lograr la misma calificación posterior a la etapa. El objetivo es lograr "excelente" para el uso operativo de energía.

La ejecución del proyecto ha proporcionado una oferta significativamente mayor para los visitantes, tiene el potencial de aumentar el número de visitantes, proporciona instalaciones representativas de un sitio del Patrimonio Mundial e introduce nuevas oportunidades económicas para las empresas locales a través de la provisión de catering y alojamiento de vacaciones dentro de las nuevas instalaciones. Obtener todos los detalles de este proyecto correctamente, desde la planificación, la excavación, la construcción y la gestión sensible de los elementos de nueva construcción y restauración, requiere un contrato en el que el equipo del proyecto pueda confiar. El contrato de construcción estándar de JCT con
Quantities proporciona un marco para capturar los requisitos de proyectos complejos y detallados para garantizar que todas las partes tengan confianza en la entrega de proyectos de clase mundial.

Hechos clave
Cliente: Cadw
Contratista principal: RL Davies & amp Son Ltd
Arquitecto y CA: Asociación EPT
Ingeniero Civil y Estructural: Mott MacDonald
Consultor M & ampE: Jacobs
Consultor BREEAM: Mott MacDonald
Asesor MDL: Opus International
Oficial de cumplimiento técnico del puente: Mott MacDonald
Subcontratista de puentes y diseñador de superestructuras: SH Structures, David Dexter Associates
Diseñador de la Fundación Bridge: Opus International
PQS: Rigby Thorpe
Arquitecto paisajista: Lingard Styles


Habitaciones en un castillo medieval

Los castillos medievales eran fortificaciones defensivas innegablemente poderosas, diseñadas para proteger un territorio del ataque de las fuerzas enemigas, pero también tenían una función doméstica. Como sede del poder de señores y monarcas, los castillos medievales solían ser lo suficientemente grandes como para albergar a un personal considerable, así como a miembros de la corte e invitados importantes.

Como resultado, necesitaban una serie de habitaciones, no solo cámaras residenciales como dormitorios, sino también espacios funcionales como cocinas y tiendas. Aunque los castillos medievales variaban mucho en apariencia, hay un conjunto de habitaciones internas que comúnmente presentaban; posiblemente, estas habitaciones son muy similares a las habitaciones domésticas que encontraría en una casa moderna.

Gran salón

El Gran Salón era la sala principal de un castillo y la sala más grande; también se podían encontrar grandes pasillos durante todo el período medieval en palacios y casas señoriales.

El gran salón tenía muchas funciones diferentes: podía usarse para recibir invitados y celebrar ceremonias, podía ser utilizado como comedor, tanto por la familia y la casa del señor del castillo como por los invitados, el salón también podía funcionar como espacio para dormir, con los miembros de la casa tendidos en el suelo.

Por lo general, un gran salón tendría un diseño rectangular, con un plano entre una y media y tres veces más largo que ancho. La habitación también tendría un techo alto, así como un área elevada o "tarima" en el extremo superior del salón, donde el señor, su familia y sus invitados cenarían, a la vista del resto del salón.

Por lo general, también había una ventana grande que permitía la entrada de luz natural a la sala, aunque en un castillo esta ventana podía ser relativamente pequeña para no comprometer la eficacia defensiva de la fortificación.

Los grandes salones también presentaban grandes hogares, con el propósito de cocinar y calentar (aunque en los castillos más grandes las cocinas estaban ubicadas en cuartos separados). El humo salió de la habitación a través de un pequeño respiradero en el techo (el castillo de Ludlow tiene un ejemplo de esto) o se construyó una chimenea.

Las chimeneas, y en particular las repisas de las chimeneas, a menudo se decoraban elaboradamente con escudos de armas y otros dispositivos heráldicos tallados en madera, yeso o piedra.

De manera similar, como el gran salón era la sala principal de un castillo, a menudo se adornaba con otras decoraciones; estas habitaciones impresionantes a menudo presentaban techos abovedados y molduras de marcos de ventanas intrincadas, por ejemplo.

A medida que avanzaba el período medieval, los grandes salones se hicieron más grandes a medida que aumentaba el tamaño de los castillos. Las casas señoriales más grandes y los grandes palacios de finales de la Edad Media y principios de la Edad Moderna también llevaron a la construcción de salas más amplias.

En el oeste de Francia, una sala más pequeña y privada se conoce como el salle haute o 'habitación alta', situada en el primer piso de las casas señoriales sobre el gran salón más grande; era en este salón superior donde el señor y sus invitados de alto rango cenaban y se relajaban.

Sin embargo, a finales del siglo XVI el gran salón empezaba a perder su importancia, gracias a la centralización del poder en manos de la realeza. Los hombres locales poderosos eran más propensos a buscar en el rey estatus y protección, lo que significa que los señores tenían hogares internos más pequeños.

La distinción social entre señor y sirviente también se hizo más clara, lo que llevó al desarrollo de habitaciones más pequeñas y privadas en alojamientos nobles.

Cámaras de cama y el solar

Normalmente se accede a las cámaras privadas de un castillo medieval por un pequeño pasaje en el extremo superior del gran salón; a menudo, los dormitorios y salas de estar del señor y la dama del castillo, y sus familiares cercanos o invitados de honor, estaban en el primer piso de la estructura.

Por lo general, en un castillo medieval, los sirvientes de la casa tendrían acceso a estas cámaras de cama para atender a su amo y a su amante, y a menudo dormían en el piso de una de las salas de estar, o incluso en el piso del dormitorio. sí mismo en algunos casos.

En algunos casos, el dormitorio privado del señor tendría un pequeño agujero que conducía al gran salón, lo que le permitiría escuchar la conversación allí. Estas cámaras del piso superior también se conocían como las "Grandes Cámaras" o, alternativamente, como las "Solares".

El solar era la vivienda privada del señor del castillo. Su nombre deriva del latín, ya sea de la palabra solaris que significa "sol" (que podría relacionarse con el brillo de la habitación), o de la palabra solus que significa "solo".

El solar permitió que el señor del castillo y su familia cercana se retiraran a la privacidad, lejos del ruido y los negocios del gran salón de abajo. También se usó como un lugar para relajarse y podría funcionar como un espacio para que el señor realizara negocios privados y reuniones.

Como estaba pensado como un espacio privado para personas de alto estatus, el solar era mucho más pequeño que el gran salón. Por lo general, también tenía una decoración más fina, adornada con carpintería y mampostería ornamentales.

Las paredes a menudo se colgaban con ricos tapices, y una chimenea mantendría caliente toda la habitación a pesar de las paredes de piedra del castillo.

Al igual que con el gran salón, los solares de las casas señoriales y palacios de la Baja Edad Media se hicieron mucho más grandes y más ricamente decorados que los que se pueden encontrar en castillos anteriores.

El castillo de Windsor cuenta con un solar con paredes pintadas de verde con estrellas doradas, y la casa solariega de Great Dixter cuenta con tres habitaciones. Sin embargo, el castillo de Edlingham contiene un buen ejemplo de un solar medieval anterior más simple.

También debe tenerse en cuenta que en Normandía y el norte de Francia, el solar a menudo estaba ubicado lejos del castillo o casa de la manera, en un edificio o torre separada.

Baños

Un elemento esencial en cualquier entorno doméstico, los baños en los castillos medievales eran conocidos por muchos nombres: "letrina", "tiro", "gong", o quizás el más conocido, "garderobe".

La palabra garderobe más tarde pasó a significar "guardarropa" en francés, pero probablemente significaba "armario" en la época medieval, ya que los baños del castillo eran muy pequeños para ahorrar espacio.

En un castillo, el garderobe solía ser un agujero muy simple, a través del cual los excrementos caían fuera del edificio a un pozo negro, o incluso directamente al foso del castillo.

El garderobe se construyó sobre una ménsula que sobresalía de la muralla del castillo (a menudo reforzada como apoyo desde abajo), de modo que los desechos cayeran directamente junto a los muros del castillo: el castillo de Peveril en Inglaterra, construido en el siglo XII, tenía un garderobe que sobresalía de un acantilado.

A veces, los jardineros del castillo presentaban ejes para guiar los excrementos a un pozo negro, pero estos ejes podrían ayudar a los atacantes si se extendían hasta el suelo. Chateau Gaillard en Francia fue capturado cuando los soldados sitiadores treparon por el pozo y entraron al castillo a través del garderobe.

El señor del castillo habría tenido un garderobe en suite, mientras que el resto de los habitantes del castillo habrían utilizado un baño común, o bien utilizaron orinales.

El musgo, el heno o la hierba se usaban a menudo como papel higiénico. Los jardineros en estructuras más lujosas parecen haber presentado hierbas y flores para brindar a la habitación un aroma agradable.

La mayoría de los baños también tenían una ventana y paredes encaladas con yeso de cal. También se limpiaron con agua. Curiosamente, algunos castillos, como el de Orford, en Inglaterra, parecen tener urinarios; en este caso, parece que el urinario se construyó en un pasaje mural para permitir que los guardias de guardia pudieran hacer sus necesidades rápidamente.

Cocinas

Las cocinas del castillo estaban separadas del gran salón y otras viviendas, principalmente para que el ruido y el humo de la cocina no llegaran a las zonas residenciales del castillo. La cocción se llevó a cabo utilizando grandes fuegos abiertos, sobre los cuales se cocinó la comida en asadores, así como en hornos.

Estos hornos podrían ser enormes: el castillo de Ludgershall supuestamente tenía un horno en el que cabía un buey entero. La comida se preparaba hirviéndola en calderos, horneando en hornos, asando, friendo o ahumando.

Al igual que en una cocina moderna, las ollas, sartenes, cuchillos, cucharones, tazones, tenedores, tijeras y morteros eran herramientas importantes. Dependiendo del tamaño y la importancia del castillo, la cocina tendría cocineros ayudados por otros miembros del personal.

Estos incluían carniceros, panaderos, coperos, cerveceros, personal de servicio e incluso escupidores, que estaban apostados junto a la chimenea para encender los grandes espetones que sostenían porciones de carne u otros alimentos.

Las cocinas de los castillos grandes podrían ser operaciones importantes, requiriendo enormes cantidades de ingredientes para albergar banquetes y banquetes. Se habría necesitado una gran cantidad de troncos solo para alimentar los incendios.

La cocina era una parte importante del castillo, y no solo porque abastecía de alimentos a la fortificación. Como los castillos también eran declaraciones de poder y prestigio señorial, la cocina del castillo también tenía que poder producir comidas lujosas para impresionar a los visitantes.

La carne, en particular, era un alimento básico para los ricos en la época medieval; las carnes incluían las que todavía son populares hoy en día, como el pollo, el cerdo y la ternera, aunque también se comía mucho pato, ganso, paloma, faisán y cordero. Las carnes a menudo se "hervían" (hervidas) en calderos o asadas sobre el fuego, y las albóndigas de carne, pasteles y tartas también eran populares.

También se comía pescado con regularidad, generalmente conservado mediante salazón o ahumado y cocinado friéndolo o hirviéndolo en agua salada y cerveza. Crayfish, eels and oysters were particularly rich seafood used by lords to impress their guests, while sturgeon and whale were the most prestigious. Vegetables were also eaten with meals, along with bread.

Cheese, pastries and fruits were commonly served as dessert, with exotic fruits such as dates and figs being served by lords wanting to make a statement.

Herbs, salt, vinegar, mustard and aniseed were the most common ways to flavour food, and honey was used as a sweetener – spices were very expensive and rarely used. Wine and beer were typically consumed with most meals.

Pantry and Larder

The pantry was a storage space for foods which lasted, such as bread and baked goods, as well as objects such as plates and cutlery. The name derives from the Old French word paneterie, which itself comes from the Latin word pan, meaning ‘bread’.

In a castle, the pantry was usually a separate storage room, although some food preparation would sometimes take place here. The pantry was overseen by a member of staff known as a ‘pantler’.

The larder was a storage room for food which did not last and was therefore kept at a cooler temperature to help with preservation – in northern European castles this was typically achieved by building the larder on the north-eastern side of the building, the side which got the least sun.

Small windows would also help with the circulation of cold air, and sometimes a large stone was included, onto which food could be placed to keep it cool.

It was in the larder that meat would be hung on hooks from the ceiling in order to cure it before cooking.

Buttery

The buttery in a medieval castle was positioned close to the kitchen and the great hall and was the room where alcohol was stored. The name likely derives from the French of Latin word for bottle, or from the word ‘butt’, the casks in which the beer itself was stored.

The buttery was presided over by a ‘butler’, who would serve the beer in the great hall. Beer was consumed very regularly in a medieval castle, as it was much safer to drink than water – most meals would be accompanied with very weak beer for this reason, so the buttery was an important storage room.

Gatehouse

The castle gatehouse was a fortified entrance building set into the curtain walls, constructed around the castle gate. As concentric castles developed and the need for free-standing stone keeps lessened, large gatehouses took over many of the defensive functions the keep had previously fulfilled.

They would typically have had one or more portcullises, as well as arrow slits, murder holes and machicolations to allow defenders to fire missiles and drop hot oil and water onto attacking soldiers – Harlech Castle has a large and highly developed gatehouse.

It was common to see two gatehouses on concentric castles with two lines of curtain walls. Drawbridges were sometimes added, although these were a later development and were actually fairly rare in medieval castles.

Some castles also had barbicans, thin enclosed passageways that stood before the gatehouse, and which were designed to slow the progress of enemy troops.

The barbican would also have murder holes and arrow slits, to allow defenders to fire at besiegers caught in the narrow passageway. Gatehouses usually contained guardrooms for garrison soldiers to rest and sleep in.

In a smaller castle or an earlier medieval castle without a gatehouse, guards would have likely stayed in the upper floors of the keep itself.

Capilla

Christianity dominated all aspects of life in medieval Europe, and castles were no exception. As they were both military and domestic spaces, castles needed to be able to fulfil religious functions such as ceremonies, from regular masses to burials and feasts.

They were, of course, also places for private prayer. Inclusion of a chapel was also important to lords building castles for symbolic reasons, as constructing churches of any kind was a prestigious activity.

By patronising their faith through the construction of churches, medieval nobles hoped to not only gain political status, but also spiritual benefits. It was believed that aiding the church would increase the status of one’s soul and place it in good standing after death.

Chapels could also be used as a place of sanctuary if a castle was captured, as it was a great sin to spill blood in a holy church.

As castles varied greatly in size, so too did castle chapels. Larger fortifications with richer owners had space and resources to build free-standing chapels, such as the one that can be seen at Windsor castle.

However, most castles simply had an interior room dedicated as a chapel, such as can be seen at Castle Rising in England. In this case, the chapel is simply a small room which would have featured an altar and other objects necessary for a religious ceremony.

Although castle chapels may have been used by the local population, they rarely included burial grounds thanks to their small size.

In larger chapels, there was sometimes tiered seating to reinforce rank, and some castle chapels are known to have been built over the gate in order to bring spiritual protection to the gate itself, the most vulnerable point of the fortification in the event of a siege (Wildenburg Castle in Germany has one such chapel).

Storage Rooms

Aside from dedicated storage spaces for food and drink inside the keep, there were also additional rooms around the castle which could be used to hold a variety of things.

Vaulted chambers, often underneath castle walls, were known as ‘casemates’ and were safe places to shelter supplies as well as soldiers.

Undercrofts were also common in the later medieval period. These were vaulted underground cellars, usually used as storerooms, although they could have other uses – the undercroft at Myres Castle in Scotland was used as a kitchen, for example.


England’s Windsor Castle was built after William the Conqueror’s invasion in the 11th century. Since then, it’s been a residence for the royal family to this day. Even if modern British monarchs just use this place for a weekend getaway. And yes, you’d almost mistake this gatehouse as the castle itself.

So we’re off to a great start. Some of the other distinguishing castle features are towers and the gates. When you look at any castle picture, you might come across an imposing entrance with the impressive gatehouse containing a drawbridge and that sliding iron wrought door of spikes. Yet, since an unsecure entrance made a castle uniquely vulnerable, the gateway was usually the first structure built in stone. A gatehouse contained a series of defenses to make a direct assault more difficult than battering down a simple gate. Yet, you’d probably wouldn’t know this in movies where vast armies storm the castle with no problem. In reality, trying to storm a castle head was a stupid way to lose an army. Another prominent castle feature are the towers, which were used for look outs and shooting arrows along with storage and imprisonment. They could be built in various locations like the walls and the gatehouse as well as come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Though early towers were mostly square shape which were said to be quite easy to topple through burrowing at the foundations. While round towers were not.

The Welsh Harlech Castle was built by English King Edward I Longshanks in the 1280s. It was involved in several wars and was used as a residence and military headquarters by Welsh hero Owain Glyndwr in the early 1400s. Later, it was held by the Lancastrians during the 1460s until the Yorkist forces took it during the Wars of the Roses. And served as a Royalist stronghold during the English Civil War in the 1640s. Today it’s a UNESCO World Heritage site as one of “the finest examples of late 13th century and early 14th century military architecture in Europe.” Nonetheless, seeing this imposing gatehouse, you wouldn’t want to storm this castle.

Barbican- a stone outpost protecting the castle’s gate usually built in front of the main entrance. Construed in the form of a tower or gateway where guards could stand watch. Some may include a narrow passage allowing for a limited number of attackers forced into a confined area for defenders to shoot at them like fish in a barrel through murder holes from the ceiling. Early barbicans were built from earthworks and wooden palisades designed to add complexity to the entrance’s layout and confuse attackers. Usually acted as the outermost defense of a castle. Due to limited space, was only defended by a small number of men.

Breastwork- a heavy parapet slung between 2 gate towers. A defensive work usually situated over the portcullis.

Drawbridge- wooden bridge in front of the main gate to span the moat or ditch. In early castles, it was moved horizontally to the ground by hand or destroyed and replaced. In later castles, it was built so it can raise up in a hinged fashion thanks to pulleys, ropes, chains, and winches. Can be raised or withdrawn making crossing impossible and prevent siege weaponry being pushed toward the castle’s walls and gates.

Gatehouse- a complex of towers, bridges, and barriers built to protect the castle’s main entrance. Often had a guard house and living quarters. Usually consisted of 2 very large stone towers joined above the main gate guarded by a bridge, gates, portcullis, or a combination. But can range from a simple structure to a 2-3 story building with an impressive façade to impress royal visitors. Above the entrance were rooms to house the constable and some men to defend the building who were stationed on the first floor. While the top floor contained murder holes and storage space for weapons. Traditionally the most vulnerable part of the castle, it became one of the most secure and with an excellent defensive position. Contains a passage with all kinds of obstacles, traps, and murder holes in the vaulted ceilings. So perhaps you want to think twice before storming a castle. Usually the first part of the castle to be completed. Though a larger and circular wall castle could have more than one.

Murder Holes- holes left in the floor on a gatehouse’s upper level, used to thrust pole weapons down, or shoot down flaming arrows at attackers trapped between the inner and outer gates. Also used for dropping heavy rocks, hot tar, boiling water, and other nasty things.

Neck or Death Trap- a narrow walled passage between a barbican and the castle walls which trapped invading enemies.

Portcullis- a heavy, sliding metal or wood grate with sharp spikes that was vertically dropped just inside the castle’s main gate through ropes and pulleys. Designed to block passage and make using rams against the main gate less effective. Think about that before trying to break down a door with a battering ram. Can also be dropped on an enemy and injure multiple people. Was always in a state of readiness and the guards can drop it from its suspended position at any time. Some gatehouses could had more than one, depending on the castle’s size and number of entrances.

Turning Bridge- drawbridge pivoted in the middle and worked like a see-saw. Had a counterweight attached to the end near the gateway.

Wicket- a person-sized door set into the main gate door.

Wing-Wall- a motte’s wall downslope to protect stairway.

Yett- a portcullis of lattice wrought iron bars used for defensive purposes.

Originally built in the early 1100s, the Alcazar of Segovia started out as a fortress, but has served as a royal palace, a state prison, a Royal Artillery college, and a military academy. Today it’s a military archives building, museum, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Yet, you have to admit how its towers give the place a unique look.

Bastion Tower- tower projecting from a wall face that functions as a bastion.

Bastle House- a small tower house with a living room over a cowshed.

Corner or Archer Tower- tower located on curtain wall corners used for firing arrows from slits.

Drum Tower- a large, round, low, squat tower built into a wall, usually connecting stretches of curtain wall.

Flanking or Mural Tower- tower located on the castle walls that provided effective flanking fire.

Gate Tower- tower constructed at the main entrance. May be part of the gate house.

Tower- fortification used to provide stability and additional defensive capabilities to the curtain wall. Used for firing upon enemies, lookout, storage, and keeping prisoners. Provided access to lookout points, wall walks, and sleeping points. Can be constructed in various shapes, sizes, and at various locations.

Sanitary Towers- a tower in the inner or outer walls used as a toilet. The wastes would drop into a cesspool in a pit.

Wall Tower- tower on wall that archers used for showering arrows on invading armies.

Watchtower or Look Out- a freestanding structure used to alert the castle in an enemy attack, spot returning soldiers and visitors in the distance, check whether the coast was clear before anyone left the castle, and send messages to distant people using recognized symbols. Had to be so high that areas around the castle could be watched for an impending attack or siege. Usually had a 360-degree view as well as employed a guard or watchman to see for many miles around.

Belgium’s 14th century Cleydael Castle seems straight out of a fairy tale on the water. However, the turrets on that one tower are quite unique.

Bartizan or Crow’s Nest- a small turret at the corner of a tower or wall. Usually at the top but not always. Usually located at one of the highest points of the castle and used as a lookout.

Belvedere- a raised turret or pavilion.

Squinch Arch- arched support for an angle turret that doesn’t reach the ground.

Turret- a small tower rising above and resting on the walls or the edge of the castle’s main towers, usually used as a lookout point. Allowed defenders to provide sheltering fire to the adjacent wall in attacks. Can contain a staircase if higher than the main tower or an extension of a tower room.


Jun 15 The Iron Ring of Welsh Fortress Castles by Edward I

harlech castle entrance ©jennifer bailey 2018

harlech castle ©jennifer bailey 2018

The days we spent in Wales were a bit of a blur if I'm honest. We packed in so much I can't remember what we did when. But I do remember the castles.

I wrote a while back something that I believed to be true at the time. I was annoyed at fantasy writers, because having visited England and explored and tromped over dozens and dozens of castles, I was irritated at how wrong they described them. Almost all fantasy writers describe the interior almost as a regular house, with hallways and chambers (parlors) and hallways.

harlech castle gatehouse ©jennifer bailey 2018

This really irked me after I'd been to a few dozen castles because I felt like I'd been lied to. None of the books I'd read could be full realized in my imagination because the actual castles were nothing like the books written. I get it, sure, it's "fantasy" so I should get over myself but I always felt like the authors were at least trying to root them in some form of realism.

beaumaris castle entrance ©jennifer bailey 2018 (samsung galaxy s8)

I still actually feel like fantasy authors don't really write castles correctly at all, not really. At least, not (most) American ones. How could they? Looking at pictures in a book or online just does not give you the feel and layout. It's just something I am always thinking about when I am exploring castles. I've been to quite a few. The only author I feel like that really grasps castles is Tad Williams. Every place I tromp about in England feels like some part of the Hayholt that managed to find its way to England somehow and I was exploring *it* instead of the actual castle I was seeing. Particularly Kenilworth and Beaumaris. I am pretty certain it's. bien. you'll see soon enough.

beaumaris castle ©jennifer bailey 2018 (samsung galaxy s8)

What I did not realize, however, is that the Welsh castles that Edward I (the Longshanks. yes, that one) built in the 13th century all had hallways. Of course, I had been to Conwy years ago but none of the others, but this trip, we made it to all four. Conwy, Caernarfon, Harlech and Beaumaris. These were all to dominate and subjugate the Welsh -- I know they call Edward I the Hammer of the Scots but in truth he could barely be bothered with them and was focused on Welsh revolts for decades. He beat them down twice and in order for a third revolt to never occur, he built the "Iron Ring" of those great four Fortress castles in north Wales.

beaumaris castle ©jennifer bailey 2018 (samsung galaxy s8)

beaumaris castle ©jennifer bailey 2018 (samsung galaxy s8)

Harlech, Conwy and Caernarfon were basically contemporary but Beaumaris was an advanced design. It was also never completed. Beaumaris was totally spectacular. It is also not as ruined as the others and you can still enjoy the interior halls, they are almost complete. I cannot express my nerdy joy at discovering what I finally recognized as a "Fantasy" castle. The hallways were dank and wet and dark, so dark in some places where there was no electric lighting. I could completely imagine how insane they would have been in the middle ages. You would need a torch or oil lamp just to walk in the halls even in daylight, they were THAT dark. It was totally great. :D

beaumaris castle, if it had been completed.

beaumaris castle servant/side room ©jennifer bailey 2018 (samsung galaxy s8)

They twisted, they turned, they went on and on and on in tight angles, up circling staircases and dizzying heights. It was completely and totally fantastic and I was heady with thousands of castles and places I'd read about.

There were rooms off the hallways in sections, and smaller rooms right off the main chambers, absolutely for servants or lesser guests. My imagination was running full sprint, it was just perfect.

So castles do have hallways, who knew. At least, 'fancy' royal castles built by a King that were the pinnacle of castle building and the engineering marvels of the century, at any rate. Most still don't. Most are just keeps, with walls around an inner bailey and buildings built along the walls. Keeps absolutely have no hallways! They just have corner spiral staircases that brought you floor to floor and each floor was one big room, sometimes two. Dividers were a big thing in the middle ages, made of wood and fabric.

beaumaris castle twisting passages ©jennifer bailey 2018 (samsung galaxy s8)

beaumaris castle ©jennifer bailey 2018 (samsung galaxy s8)

I'm just wishing American fantasy authors would have just gotten it closer to the real thing. Maybe I should have been reading British fantasy authors but. I am not sure I know any other than Tolkien and he didn't spend a lot of time in his books walking around the living quarters of castles like every current author seems to do. Maybe that should tell us something about the current state of fantasy, haha!

I didn't bring my camera to Caernarfon or Conwy. I'd already been to Conwy and the light was bad that day - very rainy. Caernarfon was spectacular but it was rainy and grey. I didn't even break out my phone! But Beaumaris had me slipping out my phone anyway, because look at the passages and twisting curves and side nooks and rooms. It was endless and perfect and I couldn't resist. I didn't have my canon but that just gives me a good reason to come back and hope for good weather. Besides, the watery and rainy day just added to the atmosphere, the passages were dank, wet and dark. Exactly how castles should be, it was just excellent! :)

I know I've been expounding about fantasy authors and the lack of authenticity but let me just end this post with a bit of hilarious history about Harlech castle. It was considered an engineering marvel at the time, it had 4 portcullis gates and a moat and a drawbridge and an incredibly imposing strong gatehouse. and yet. it fell to every siege that faced it. Four times it was sieged, four times it fell. Kind of says a lot about the hearts and strength of the Welsh, if you ask me ) They were the ones taking it back from the English each time.


Visión general

None of Edward I’s mighty coastal fortresses has a more spectacular setting

Harlech Castle crowns a sheer rocky crag overlooking the dunes far below – waiting in vain for the tide to turn and the distant sea to lap at its feet once again.

No further drama is really required but, just in case, the rugged peaks of Snowdonia rise as a backdrop. Against fierce competition from Conwy, Caernarfon and Beaumaris, this is probably the most spectacular setting for any of Edward I’s castles in North Wales. All four are designated as a World Heritage Site.

Harlech was completed from ground to battlements in just seven years under the guidance of gifted architect Master James of St George. Its classic ‘walls within walls’ design makes the most of daunting natural defences.

Even when completely cut off by the rebellion of Madog ap Llewelyn the castle held out – thanks to the ‘Way from the Sea’. This path of 108 steps rising steeply up the rock face allowed the besieged defenders to be fed and watered by ship.

Harlech is easier to conquer today. An incredible ‘floating’ footbridge allows you to enter this great castle as Master James intended – for the first time in 600 years.


Gatehouse Interior, Harlech Castle - History

Remains of the castle keep at Harlech Castle, North Wales.

We drove into the village of Harlech hoping to find a good view of the famous 13th century castle only to discover that the best place is from the road below.

Harlech Castle was built by Edward I during his invasion of Wales between 1282 and 1289. Over the next few centuries, the castle played an important part in several wars, withstanding the siege of Madog ap Llywelyn between 1294–95, but falling to Owain Glyndŵr in 1404. It then became Glyndŵr's residence and military headquarters for the remainder of the uprising until being recaptured by English forces in 1409. During the 15th century Wars of the Roses, Harlech was held by the Lancastrians for seven years, before Yorkist troops forced its surrender in 1468, a siege memorialised in the song Men of Harlech. Following the outbreak of the English Civil War in 1642, the castle was held by forces loyal to Charles I, holding out until 1647 when it became the last fortification to surrender to the Parliamentary armies.

UNESCO considers Harlech to be one of "the finest examples of late 13th century and early 14th century military architecture in Europe", and it is classed as a World Heritage site. The fortification is built of local stone and concentric in design, featuring a massive gatehouse that probably once provided high-status accommodation for the castle constable and visiting dignitaries. The sea originally came much closer to Harlech than in modern times, and a water-gate and a long flight of steps leads down from the castle to the former shore, which allowed the castle to be resupplied by sea during sieges. In keeping with Edward's other castles in North Wales, the architecture of Harlech has close to links to that found in the County of Savoy during the same period, an influence probably derived from the Savoy origins of the main architect, James of Saint George.

Harlech Castle in a village in Gwynedd, North Wales.

Harlech Castle was built during King Edward I's second campaign in north Wales. It was part of an "iron ring" of castles surrounding the coastal fringes of Snowdonia, eventually stretching from Flint around to Aberystwyth a ring intended to prevent the region from ever again becoming a focal point of insurrection and a last bastion of resistance. Following the fall of the Welsh stronghold of Castell y Bere, King Edward's forces arrived at Harlech in April, 1283, and building work began almost immediately.

Over the next six years an army of masons, quarriers, laborers and other craftsmen were busily engaged in construction. In 1286, with the work at its height, nearly 950 men were employed under the superintendence of Master James. The final result was a perfectly concentric castle, where one line of defenses is enclosed by another. Unfortunately, the outer wall is ruinous today and fails to convey the true 13th-century effect.

The natural strength of the castle rock and cliff face meant that only the east face was open to possible attack. Here the gatehouse still offers an insolent display of power. The gate-passage itself was protected by a succession of no less than seven obstacles, including three portcullises. On either side of the passage were guardrooms, and the upper floors of the gatehouse provided the main private accommodation at Harlech. The first floor must have been for the constable, or governor, who from 1290-93 was none other than Master James himself. The comfortable rooms on the top floor probably served as a suite for visiting dignitaries, including the king.

Harlech Castle played a key role in the national uprising led by Owain Glyndwr. After a long siege, it fell to his forces in 1404. The castle became Glyndwr's residence and headquarters, and one of the two places to which he is believed to have summoned parliaments of his supporters. It was only after a further long siege in 1408 that Harlech was retaken by English forces under Harry of Monmouth, later Henry V.

Sixty years later, during the War of the Roses, the castle was held for the Lancastrians until taken by Lord Herbert of Raglan for the Yorkist side. It was this prolonged siege which traditionally gave rise to the song Men of Harlech.


The great castles of North Wales

Approaching Conwy Castle from its overflow parking lot, your view is blocked by a high railroad embankment with a long pedestrian tunnel beneath it. This turns out to be a good thing. Now the castle can simply spring upon you, its massive southern wall bathed in light. It rises as a black monolith flanked by giant towers, emerging organically from the bedrock that erupts from the greensward. From this view, you can get some of the feelings that a 13th-century Welshman might have felt when he first saw this castle in its glory. You can understand what the English king Edward I “Longshanks” wanted it to be when he built it in 1287.
It’s a terror weapon.

Lee mas

Two centuries before Edward built Conwy, Duke William of Normandy invaded England to become King William I “The Conqueror,” and his Norman vassals seized English and Welsh estates alike. In Wales, these new Norman lords took over estates primarily in the south and along the borders (“marches”) with England. These “Marcher Lords” came and went, sometimes enlarging their lands, sometimes getting their clocks cleaned by the natives. In the 1210s there was a great deal of clock-cleaning, as rebellious English barons forced King John to sign the Magna Carta, then got him involved in a protracted civil war that would lead to his death in 1216. In the confusion, a resurgent Welsh nobility had the chance to get some of their own back.

Built on a rocky promontory above the River Conwy between 1287-1292, Conwy Castle today is but the largest attraction in one of Britain’s most charming walled towns. JIM HARGAN

Past Welsh revolts had failed, dissolving into internecine conflicts that were easily exploited whenever the English monarchy managed to get its act together. This time it would be different. The prince who ruled Wales’ mountainous northwest, an unconquered region known then and now as Gwynedd (pronounced gwinneth ), became the unchallenged leader of unconquered Wales. Llywelyn ap Iorwerth, known as “Llywelyn the Great,” used diplomacy and war to unify the Welsh nobles under him and take lands from the Marcher lords.

In 1218 King John’s successor, Henry III (then 11 years old), acknowledged Llywelyn as “Prince of Wales.” Skillful politics and carefully considered warfare kept the title and lands intact, to be inherited by his son Dafydd, then his grandson Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, “Llywelyn the Last.” It was Llywelyn the Last who lost all of Wales to the English king Edward I, and got himself killed in the process.

After Edward Longshanks had received Llywelyn’s head from his killers, he built four great castles in the heart of Llywelyn’s principality: Conwy, Harlech, Caernarfon, and Beaumaris. They were among the largest and most sophisticated castles ever built.

C ONWY

Northwest Wales is dramatically mountainous, and at Conwy these mountains extend to the sea’s edge. The north-flowing Conwy River marks the eastern border of the mountains, a wide tidal slash that has long been a barrier to trade and conquest behind it, the princes of Gwynedd had long been safe. Mostly, the Conwy River is edged by muds and marshes, but at Conwy a hard mountain ridge-line runs straight to the river and disappears under its waters. This is the narrowest point at the river’s mouth, and the only practical crossing for miles. It was here, in 1283, that Edward’s men started work on the first of the four castles.

Up through the 1950s, this eastern approach to Conwy presented one of the finest views in Britain. The castle rises straight out of the water, a looming hulk framed by massive bare cliffs, with a charming walled town hugging its downstream side. Thomas Telford’s delicate 1826 suspension bridge links it with the eastern shore, a graceful span whose castellated towers complement the castle. The railroad crosses behind Telford’s bridge on an 1848 tubular structure whose castellated piers are larger and clunkier than Telford’s, but still attractive. The castle, the town and the two bridges made for a stunning set piece—but Telford’s 8-foot-wide bridge could not handle the traffic, and a new bridge opened beside it in 1958. It’s not an ugly bridge, but some of the grandeur is gone.

Like all true castles, Conwy was both an aristocratic residence and a military base. It had to meet the daily needs of a fine lord and his lady, it had to house a bunch of rough soldiers and it had to withstand the most brutal and prolonged attacks. These needs converged to serve one overarching goal: to project power, both practically and psychologically. As a military base, the castle could completely control a 20-mile radius with just a small force of mounted knights, and it could defend itself so well that only the most powerful would dare challenge it.

As a noble residence, it demonstrated the overwhelming power, prestige and wealth of its owner. In this case, its owner was Edward I, the richest and most powerful lord of them all, and the era’s greatest warrior. Conwy wasn’t just meant to awe it was meant to scare the living daylights out of anyone who dared challenge its power.

Bear in mind that Edward started Conwy Castle after he had killed Llywelyn and won all of Wales for himself. Although anti-insurgency operations would continue for another 13 years, Edward didn’t need a castle on this scale to fight insurgents. He needed it to scare them. To gain the site, Edward demolished a palace of Llywelyn’s and a monastery in which Llywelyn the Great was buried. Eight mammoth cylindrical towers bulge out from the walls, each one seven stories high and 30 feet in diameter, set so close together that the castle appears to be little more than a collection of towers. Outside, more walls enclosed—and enclose to this day—a sizable town, first populated wholly by English colonists intent on profiting from the newly conquered lands. All this construction was plastered and whitewashed, a gleaming intrusion from an enemy state.

Caernarfon Castle interior. JIM HARGAN

And it was all ludicrously expensive. Built in just five years, Conwy Castle consumed an amount of money equal to the English government’s entire tax receipts for a year. It was not only physically and technologically beyond anything Gwynedd could have produced, it required more wealth than the principality could have hoped to produce in a century. No one could hope to succeed against anyone powerful enough to build such a castle at Conwy, no one even tried. And Edward built three more castles nearby, just like it.

H ARLECH

Amazingly, Edward started Harlech at the same time as Conwy, finishing it in 1289. Its purpose was straightforward it anchored the southwest corner of Gwynedd, just as Conwy anchored its northeast. This squarish castle occupies the top of a tall, rocky outcrop that, at the time, rose as a near-cliff 200 feet out of the sea.

It’s even larger than Conwy, with a lower wall that encloses and protects the sea approach at the bottom of the cliff, then a stunning inner wall (a “curtain wall” in castle parlance, as it seems to hang like a curtain between the towers) rising 35 feet above its leveled platform on the knoll’s top.

Inside, it has a single large inner bailey, with one of the most massive gatehouses in Britain, providing housing for its lord and its garrison, as well as protection from attack. It worked in 1294, 37 men held off a determined attack and long siege by Welsh insurrectionists. Today, its mountainous location makes it an impressive and romantic sight, even though two miles of sand deposits now separate this former headland from the sea.

Castles such as Harlech and Conwy were not only foreign intrusions in Wales, they were foreign to all Britain. Castles evolved on the Continent during the 9th century along the Rhone and Rhine rivers, from hill forts built using a design that placed wood palisade walls around a large enclosed area (“outer bailey”), then a wood tower on a high spot protected by its own inner palisade, which formed an inner bailey around the tower.

During the 10th century, French warriors discovered that they could throw up one of these compounds anywhere, in just a few weeks, by impressing the conquered locals as a slave labor force. From inside, they could send parties of mounted knights out to protect or oppress the countryside and be back in time for dinner.

Really successful castles would later be rebuilt in stone. By the 13th century, the palisades had become thick curtain walls hung between high towers, and the inner tower on a mound (“motte”) had evolved into the Great Tower (or donjon in French).

The Normans brought castles to both England and Wales as instruments of occupation and intimidation. By the late 12th century, the Gwynedd princes had started building castles to protect themselves from the Normans, and some of these survive.

The small castle at Dolbadarn, in the shadow of Wales’ largest mountain, Mount Snowdon, is just down the road from Caernarfon. Built by Llywelyn the Great, it features a round 50-foot great tower that commands a wide view of the surrounding peaks. A modest castle set in great natural beauty, it makes for an evocative visit, the more so after having seen one of Edward’s massive castles at Conwy, Harlech or nearby Caernarfon.

C AERNARFON

Biggest and greatest of them all, Caernarfon (pronounced kyre-NAR-vonn ) sits on the coast halfway between Conwy and Harlech. It was meant from the first to be a palace as well as a castle, and Edward pulled out all the stops. Like Harlech and Conwy, Caernarfon sits on the sea with tidal access to medieval ships unlike the others, it occupies flat land on a peninsula then nearly surrounded by water. The castle stretches the length of three football fields along the harbor, with an unbroken curtain wall 36 feet high.

Edward deliberately made the wall and its massive projecting towers to look like the walls of ancient Roman Constantinople (which he had seen on crusade), with different kinds of rocks forming long, colored stripes around the walls. This turned out to be an inspired piece of propaganda, as the Welsh had long since embraced the tall tales of Gregory of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain , in which Caernarfon had featured as the site of a widespread Welsh empire during the Roman era. Edward declared Caernarfon to be the seat of his new Welsh government, just as the Welsh believed it had served as the seat of a Welsh empire in the days of King Arthur. As at Conwy, Edward extended the castle walls to enclose a sizable town of English colonists, from which Welshmen were banned for the next 200 years.

To punch up the propaganda value of Caernarfon, Edward and his family were in residence in 1284, only the second year of construction, so that his wife Eleanor could give birth there. The child became known as Edward of Caernarfon, and in 1301 Edward Longshanks bestowed the title of Prince of Wales upon his son. Edward of Caernarfon went on to rule England as Edward II, and the expected heir to the throne has been declared the Prince of Wales ever since.

Despite these royal aspirations for Caernarfon, it was never completed. In the Welsh revolt of 1294, which Harlech survived so handily, Caernarfon village was captured immediately the rebels simply walked through the unfinished castle gate. They destroyed both castle and town pretty thoroughly, and it took mammoth expenditure to rebuild the battered town and castle and complete the defenses. When the money ran out again, several internal buildings and tower interiors were left permanently unfinished.

Modern Caernarfon Castle sits on the southern edge of a sprawling town, once rich on slate and now rather down at the heels. Its stonework remains almost completely intact, and at high tide its magnificent curtain walls reflect in the still waters of the harbor. Inside it forms nearly a figure eight with the same sort of plan as Conwy: a lower bailey for the garrison and service buildings, and an upper bailey for the royal family. The walls are especially thick, and you can walk nearly around the castle in two interior tunnels as well as along the parapet. Two of the towers hold exhibits—one on the Prince of Wales that includes the slate throne upon which Prince Charles sat so many decades ago, the other on the castle’s history. The old walled town is also worth a visit, with the lane along the inside of the east wall, Hole In The Wall Lane, being particularly scenic.

B EAUMARIS

The fourth of Edward’s great castles was a bit of a historical footnote. Squat and square, this castle (whose name means “fair marsh”) occupies low land on the northeast coast of the island of Anglesey, just across the Menai Strait from Bangor. In Edward’s day this was the main ferry to Anglesey, and travelers used it to reach the Holyhead boat to Ireland, just as they do now. Edward started Beaumaris much later than the others, and despite 37 years of off-and-on work, it was never close to completion.

Beaumaris was an afterthought, the result of the Revolt of 1294 that saw Harlech resist and Caernarfon fall. The rebels quickly took over Anglesey and executed its chief official, the sheriff—a particular friend of Edward’s. Edward reacted with typical forcefulness and ferocity, launching a devastating campaign in the dead of winter that caught the rebels by surprise and routed them. At that point, Edward realized that he’d better have a castle on Anglesey.

Modern Beaumaris gets its squat appearance from the fact it was never completed. It is a square, symmetrical castle, surrounded by a flooded moat. Inside the moat is an octagonal outer curtain wall with 15 towers, intentionally built rather low to catch crossfire from the much higher inner walls. About 60 feet behind this is the main castle, with 35-foot curtain walls, six large towers and two huge gatehouses set opposite each other. These towers and gatehouses were meant to match Harlech in size and scale, but none was completed, and no tower ever came close to full height.

Brilliant and brutal, Edward Longshanks had one goal: to unify Britain under the English monarchy, as (he believed) Arthur had unified it eight centuries before. That he was the new Arthur, and fully capable of building a whole series of massively oppressive Camelots, he wanted no one in Wales to doubt. Today, his four greatest castles may have long lost their power to terrorize, but they retain their power to awe.


10. The location of a castle was its main defence

Despite the elaborate design of castles and their impenetrable two-metre thick outer walls, the chosen location of a fortification was its most important form of defence and strategy.

The Châteaux de Lastours complex in France was built into mountains, making it difficult for any would-be invaders to access it.

Some castles were built close to the sea, a location that served two purposes: not only did it enable the sighting of any incoming naval invasions, but it was hoped that imposing clifftop stone fortresses would help to repel unwanted invaders by demonstrating military strength.

Castles were also often built on hilltops. This ancient choice of location served the simple purpose of enabling its residents to see for miles around from a great height. Any attackers could be easily spotted and preparations for defence put into place.

Equally, if built at a great height, many castles would be logistically impossible to attack, for siege weapons such as trebuchets could not force their way close enough to the castle walls. The Châteaux de Lastours complex in France was built within the mountains and remains difficult to access to this day.

During the Albigensian Crusades of the 13th century, the complex served as a place of refuge for the persecuted Cathars, who came from nearby Carcassone. In 1209, meanwhile, it consistently resisted the forceful attacks of Simon de Montfort, 5th Earl of Leicester.


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