Medieval Castles of North Wales

Travel Blog | Lady and the Tramper

Wales and the rest of Britain has an unbelievable collection of castles. Some of them are the most well preserved in the whole of Europe. Yet I can’t help but feel that the majority have been neglected. Some stand alone with zero barriers, free for anybody to do whatever they feel. I find it strange that something near 1000 years old can be left this way. I constantly hear people’s desires to see ‘wonders of the world’ in far distant countries when we have so many right on our doorstep that are far more impressive structures and even built long before. Of course, I am not saying that other wonders of the world are not worthy. I just mean that you don’t always have to look for the exotic when there is plenty of history in your own backyard. Britain has an incredibly long line of history and the history of castles is just one of them to be explored. I hope that the popularity of TV shows like Game of Thrones will bring back a huge interest in our castles and medieval history as a whole.

Conwy Castle from Above.

Just across the water from me in Liverpool is the beginning of one of the most ambitious building projects in the whole of medieval history. In 1282 after defeating Prince Llywelyn of Wales for the second time, King Edward I was worried of a third uprising developing in North Wales and so set out to refurbish and build new castles in strategic positions around the coast and interior of North Wales. This chain of fortresses would become known as the “Iron Ring”. The science and military architecture behind these fortresses is incredible although some were never completely finished due to a lack of funding after a vast sum of money had already been spent. It’s hard to predict how much exactly in today’s terms but it is said that King Edward I spent an absurd amount, with single castles costing as much as £22,000. Which as you can imagine must have been a lot in those days.

Flint Castle

The building of this castle began back in 1277 and was one of Kind Edward I first to be built as part of his “Iron Ring” of castles in North Wales. Looking out onto marshland, this is one of the smaller castles in Wales and is more run down. You may have heard of this castle from Shakespeare’s play Richard II.

Fee: Free

Opening Times: 10:00 – 16:00 Daily. Closed 24th – 26th December (inclusive) and 1st January.

Flint Castle

Denbigh Castle

This Welsh castle is most famous for its triple towered gatehouse. One of the few castles not located near the shore. The castle sits atop a hill overlooking the medieval town of Denbigh, complete with half a mile of town walls.

Fee: Adult £4 Child £2.80 (Free Mon to Thu)

Opening Times: 10:00 – 16:00 (11:00 – 16:00 Sun)

Rhuddlan Castle

A symmetrical castle with the latest cutting edge military architecture of walls within walls to strengthen the fortress. The River Clwyd was diverted two miles so materials for this strategically placed castle could be brought in by ship from the sea.

Fee: Adult £3.50 Child £2.50

Opening Times: 10:00 – 17:00 Daily from 23rd March to 31st October.

Conwy Castle

Conwy Castle is one of the finest medieval castles to survive. It’s military strength and power is hard to fault. It’s eight tall towers stand proud seen from a great distance by any would-be attackers. Several are still accessible today which gives you great views of the castle, town walls and the beautiful welsh landscape. The castle comes complete with town walls which can be accessed for free and gives excellent views of the town of Conwy.

Fee: Adult £7.95 Child £5.60

Opening Times: 10:00 – 16:00 Daily (11:00 – 16:00 Sun)

Conwy Castle at night

Photo Credit: Carl Yeates Photography

Beaumaris Castle

Located on the island of Anglesey, Beaumaris for me is the most stunning castle of them all. The walls and turrets are built in perfect symmetry. It’s hard not to admire the stonework which reflects upon the surrounding moat. Dubbed as a technically perfect fortification built with the walls within walls technology. Sadly this was never completed due to financial constraints and an uprising developing in Scotland.

Fee: Adult £6 Child £4.20

Opening Times: 10:00 – 16:00 (11:00 – 16:00 Sun)

Beaumaris Castle

Caernarfon Castle

Another beast of a fortress similar to Conwy in terms of strength and intimidation. Although built to a different standard with polygonal towers rather than the usual round shape. Even the stones were arranged colour coded. This was the most expensive of the iron ring castles costing at that time a whopping £22,000.

Fee: Adult £7.95 Child £5.60

Opening Times: 10:00 – 16:00  (11:00 – 16:00 Sun)

Harlech Castle

Once accessible by sea, Harlech Castle now stands stranded alone due to the receding waters. This was one of the cheapest of Edward’s castles costing only £8,190. That still doesn’t make this a push over by any means.

Fee: Adult £6 Child £4.20

Opening Times: 10:00 – 16:00 Daily (11:00 – 16:00 Sun)

*All opening times vary depending on season

Map of Castles in North Wales

Below is a map of the castles in North Wales.

If you’re thinking of visiting the castles and you need help on other things to do in North Wales then check out some of our other blog posts. How about a day out in Betws-y-Coed or you might be feeling fit enough to hike one of the trails of Snowdon.

Jamie Richardson

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