Criccieth Castle

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Criccieth Castle
Part of Gwynedd
Criccieth, North Wales
Criccieth Castle - geograph.org.uk - 597029.jpg
The remains of the great gatehouse at Criccieth Castle.
Criccieth Castle is located in Wales
Criccieth Castle
Criccieth Castle
Type Enclosure Castle
Site information
Controlled by Cadw
Condition Ruinous
Site history
Built c.1230-1280s
In use Open to public
Built by Llywelyn the Great
Llywelyn ap Gruffudd
James of St George
Materials Siltstone
Events Welsh Wars
Prince Madoc's Rebellion
Owain Glyndŵr rebellion

Criccieth Castle (Welsh: Castell Cricieth) is a native Welsh castle situated on the headland between two beaches in Criccieth, Gwynedd, in North Wales, on a rocky peninsula overlooking Tremadog Bay. It was built by Llywelyn the Great of the kingdom of Gwynedd but it was heavily modified following its capture by English forces of Edward I in the late 13th century.

Construction[edit]

Although the stone castle was begun in the 1230s, there were three main building phases plus several periods of remodelling. The earliest part of the masonry castle is the inner ward which was started by Llywelyn the Great. Unlike most other Welsh native strongholds, the inner ward at Criccieth was protected by a twin D-shaped towered gateway that was protected by a gate and portcullis, with murder holes in the passage, and outward facing arrowslits in each tower. A design that might have been copied from English designs on the Marches such as Beeston Castle, Cheshire or Montgomery Castle, Shropshire. The two towers of the gatehouse provided accommodation and their height was later raised in the Edwardian period. The castle's well was also in the gatehouse passage which was supplied by a spring fed cistern.

In the 1260s or 1270s, an outer ward was added during the second building phase under Llywelyn ap Gruffudd. A new gateway was added in the outer curtain with a large two-storey rectangular tower. The castle, although not a proper concentric design, now had two circuits of circular defences.

Criccieth was taken by English forces in 1283. Under James of Saint George another two storey rectangular tower, connected to the rest of the castle by a curtain wall, the "Engine Tower" (now in ruins) might have been the foundation for a siege engine. The gatehouse had another storey added and several Welsh mural towers were strengthened. An outer barbican was added to the outer curtain wall.

Under Welsh stewardship, the principal residence was in the SW tower but when the castle was taken over by the English, accommodation was situated in the towers of the D-shaped gatehouse. Timber buildings, which included a great hall, were erected within the inner ward.

History[edit]

A Motte and bailey stood at a different site in Criccieth before the masonry castle was built. In 1283 the castle was captured by English under the command of Edward I. It was then remodelled by James of St George.

In 1294, Madoc ap Llywelyn, a distant relation of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, began an uprising against English rule that spread quickly through Wales. Several English-held towns were razed and Criccieth (along with Harlech Castle and Aberystwyth Castle) were besieged that winter. Its residents survived until spring when the castle was resupplied.

In the 14th century the castle had a notable later constable called Hywel ap Gryffd who fought for Edward III at the Battle of Crecy in 1346.

The castle was used as a prison until 1404 when Welsh forces captured the castle during the rebellion of Owain Glyndŵr. The Welsh then tore down its walls and set the castle alight. Some stonework still show the scorch marks.

Criccieth was also one of several locations Romantic artist Joseph Mallord William Turner used for his famous series of paintings depicting shipwrecked mariners.

Present day[edit]

The castle is maintained by Cadw. It includes exhibits and information on Welsh castles as well as the Anglo-Norman writer Gerald of Wales.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]