Castles - World Heritage Site
With the collapse of the Roman Empire and the departure of the Roman legions, other invaders, despite the difficult mountainous terrain of the area, eventually succeeded in occupying the land. The Vikings, Anglo Saxons and Normans came and left their mark on the area. This fuelled a period that saw the Princes of Gwynedd build numerous castle strongholds in an endeavour to protect their lands from the invaders and each other!
The castles of Dolbadarn and Dolwyddelan were built in strategic positions within the heartland of Snowdonia to control the two principal routes through the mountains.Criccieth Castle is another fine example that sits on the headland overlooking Tremadog Bay and towers above the town of Criccieth. This castle was also built by Llywelyn the Great and expanded by Llywelyn the Last. Castell y Bere, another native Welsh castle situated north of Abergynolwyn, is also likely to have been built by Llywelyn the Great around 1221.
Having captured the native castles, Edward I proceeded to build his own formidable ring of castles in North Wales. The magnificent and awesome World Heritage Site of Caernarfon Castle sits defiantly on the banks of the river Seiont and the Menai Strait. It looks today much as it would have when it was finished in 1330. It was built as a military stronghold but was also Edward’s seat and official residence in Wales.
Another of Edward I's castles is Harlech Castle, high on the peninsula overlooking the bay of Cardigan, and seeming to rise from the rock on which it stands. It was built by James of St George, Edward I's favoured architect, and took seven years to complete. In 1404 the castle fell to the forces of Owain Glyndwr after a long siege when starvation reduced the determined garrison to just 21 men. During the Wars of the Roses the castle withstood the longest siege in the history of Britain which inspired the song ‘Men of Harlech’.