Conwy castle is a gritty, dark stoned fortress which has the rare ability to evoke an authentic medieval atmosphere. The first time that visitors catch sight of the castle, commanding a rock above the Conwy Estuary and demanding as much attention as the dramatic Snowdonia skyline behind it, they know they are in the presence of a historic site which still casts a powerful spell. Conwy, constructed by the English monarch Edward I between 1283 and 1289 as one of the key fortresses in his ‘iron ring’ of castles to contain the Welsh, was built to prompt such a humbling reaction.
Castell Coch is a Victorian folly built on the site of a much older dwelling, which may in turn have been raised on the ruins of an ancient fort. It’s easy to see why- the modern castle can be seen for miles around and it commands excellent views of the Taff valley below. A beautifully romantic Welsh castle, Nr Cardiff.
Pembroke Castle most likely sits on early fortifications (Roman habitation is known in the area), which is no surprise given its strategic location. Either side of the ridge on which it sits run two tidal inlets, and it can control sea traffic in and out of the natural harbour. For the Norman conquerors in the 11th and 12th centuries, this would prove to be an important strategic consideration. The castle and its earldom passed between various families and the crown through the 14th century, surviving the ravages of the Owain Glyndŵr revolt. In 1457, under Jasper Tudor, earl of Pembroke, his nephew the future King Henry VII was born within the walls.
Caernarfon Castle pumped-up appearance is unashamedly muscle-bound and intimidating. Picking a fight with this massive structure would have been a daunting prospect. By throwing his weight around in stone, King Edward I created what is surely one of the most impressive of Wales’s castles. Worthy of World Heritage status no less! Most castles are happy with round towers, not Caernarfon! Polygonal towers were the order of the day, with the Eagle Tower being the most impressive of these. You will also note the colour-coded stones carefully arranged in bands.