Criccieth Castle

Criccieth, United Kingdom

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

The stone castle had first been built 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 gatehouse with twin D-shaped towers that was protected by a gate and portcullis, with murder holes in the passage, and outward facing arrowslits in each tower. Archaeologist Laurence Keen suggested that Criccieth's gatehouse was based on the design of those at Beeston Castle in Cheshire, which was built for Ranulf de Blondeville in the 1220s, as they have similar plans. This design is also similar to Montgomery Castle, Powys. The two towers of the gatehouse at Criccieth provided accommodation and their height was later increased 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 D-shaped towers of the gatehouse. Timber buildings, which included a great hall, were erected within the inner ward.

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 shows 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.

The castle is maintained by Cadw. It includes exhibits and information on Welsh castles as well as the 12th-century Anglo-Norman writer Gerald of Wales.



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Founded: 13th century
Category: Castles and fortifications in United Kingdom

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4.4/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Stephen Ward (2 months ago)
Great views and an interesting castle ruins, whilst being quite complete in parts. Good shop and small museum section.
randolph bish (2 months ago)
Beautiful castle with amazing views. It was a steep climb up the hill but worth it for the view at the top. The staff were very friendly and helpful.
Kelly Ellis-Jones (2 months ago)
I'm sure it is a wonderful castle, but I couldn't go in. It is only open on a Thursday to Monday, and we went on a Sunday, our own fault for sure! From the outside it looked great, and there was a beach just down the road. The parking here is very limited, a lot of people were just parked on the side of the road.
Sue Kohl (3 months ago)
Amazing views. Not much time to go around it. It has a wheelchair friendly sloped path but it's extremely steep. Keep a very close eye on children, lots of places around the outside of the castle where they could fall over the edge
Paul A (3 months ago)
Magnificent - and you can park right outside! Any medieval fans will love this one. Fantastic coastal views.
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