January 18, 2018

Domestic Security in Wales a la Edward I

Castles. What images come to your mind when reading this word?  If you’re like me, you may imagine a beautiful structure that feels romantic and rich.  A place where grand parties or celebrations occurred and sumptuous food was enjoyed along with the best wine.

Harlech Castle Wales by Jelle Drok, on Flickr

We travel miles and miles to see what we think of as romantic castles but did you know most castles were actually built as a method of domestic security?  No other place is this more true than in Wales and the castles of Edward I.

Caernarfon Castle Wales by Jelle Drok, on Flickr

For years the Welsh warlords wreaked havoc against the English kings.  So much so that in 1267 Henry III recognized Welsh independence.  But his son, Edward I, had other ideas and spent years fighting to bring the Welsh back under English rule.  After his successful bids, he spent time securing his lands by building a series of strongholds we now adore as castles!

Conwy Castle by Eifion, on Flickr

Conwy Castle by Eifion, on Flickr

It was during this medieval period that Edward commissioned great architects to build or upgrade a series of impenetrable fortresses that would help protect his lands.  This so called “Iron Ring” was a modern attempt to protect the villages of medieval Britain.  By strategically placing the castles near the sea, Edward’s navy was able to send provisions to the people during uprisings thus ensuring his military success.

Beaumaris Castle Wales by Jelle Drok, on Flickr

Beaumaris Castle Wales by Jelle Drok, on Flickr

After the first uprising in 1277, Edward built castles such as Flint, Rhuddlan and Aberystwyth as well as began upgrading other Welsh castles.

It was after the second revolt that Edward extended his fortifications by commissioning the work of a master architect, James of St. George whose work is now recognized by UNESCO.  It was during this time that the castles at Harlech, Caernarfon, Conwy and Beaumaris were built.

Conwy castle Wales Britain

Conwy Castle by Sarah Lionheart

The castles of Harlech, Caernarfon, Conwy and Beaumaris are known as the big Four Castles of Edward I.  They are also the ones that have survived the years mostly intact.

Caernarfon Castle Wales Britain

Caernarfon Castle interior by Petrusbarbygere

Whether you spend time exploring the ruins of these medieval masterpieces or wandering through one of the more intact castles, the Edwardian castles allow us to explore and touch history.


Do you tour castles?  What are your favorites?

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  5. Elise Walsh says:

    I love a good castle. The last one I got to visit Windsor Castle- which unbenounced to me had an entire room of terrifying dolls (I have doll issues). Otherwise castles are the bomb if they do not have a creepy doll room.
    Elise Walsh recently posted..Cheap Activities in Los Angeles, California

    • Debbie Beardsley says:

      I hope the next castle you visit doesn’t have a creepy doll room! I love a good castle too 🙂

  6. Yronelle says:

    When we were young, we always want to see castles just like we see them in cartoons…These photos are all awesome!
    Yronelle recently posted..costa del sol bayshore

  7. Julie says:

    Such a wonderful castle! I wish I ever had the chance to get there… this place must be really beautiful!
    Julie recently posted..lumineers cost

  8. Yes, I love to visit castles of all kinds. Haven’t seen the ones of Edward I. Interesting history. The castle I visited most recently was Heidelberg Castle — definitely a favorite of mine.
    Cathy Sweeney recently posted..Houston, You’ve Got a Problem

    • Debbie Beardsley says:

      The history behind castles are very interesting! Heidelberg Castle is beautiful and in a great part of Germany.

  9. I have not seen any of these, but I was very impressed by the castle in Prague.
    Stephanie – The Travel Chica recently posted..Valdivia Knows How to Make Good Beer

    • Debbie Beardsley says:

      I am sure Prague castle is very impressive! It is one that I will visit one day soon 🙂

  10. Kim says:

    Beautiful castles!! I am sad to say that I have never been to a real-life castle… but soon! So soon!! They’re so romantic and mysterious.

  11. Beautiful castles — and they do look quite romantic! But, great point that they are security fortresses. I always fantasized about living in the middle ages, but I imagine it was an absolutely horrible time to live. Great photos!
    The Time-Crunched Traveler (Ellen) recently posted..Lake Placid’s Ubu Ale: The best beer ever?

  12. EurotripTips says:

    I just recently toured Warwick Castle and it was amazing. Life-like wax figures, a peacock garden and lovely views on the estate make up for the hefty entrance fee. I also love Chinon Castle in Switzerland.
    EurotripTips recently posted..Monday’s Postcard: Banyoles, Spain

  13. Christopher says:

    Very informative and LOVELY photos.
    Christopher recently posted..Monday Reader — Reading Worth the Read

  14. Sophie says:

    I’ve seen all of these except Harlech (my daughter did her MA in Wales) and liked them all. Imagine all that has been going on within those walls through the centuries…
    Sophie recently posted..Kids, cakes and Cornwall

    • Debbie Beardsley says:

      I love wandering through old building wondering about all that went on between the walls.

  15. jade says:

    I love visiting and touring castles. Maybe it’s the little princess inside that wishes I could live in one or what life would have been like during those times.
    jade recently posted..Eat like a Spaniard to Lose Weight

    • Debbie Beardsley says:

      I too have wondered what it would have been like living in those times. All the movies make it seem so romantic and wonderful but I have a feeling it was something else all together!

  16. Nicole Schuman says:

    These are so majestic! I so really amaze about castles, kings and queens.. It’s like I’m in a fairytale land and waiting for my prince charming. 🙂 Anyway, great shots.. Thanks for sharing!
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    • Debbie Beardsley says:

      That must be why we girls are so enthralled with castles! However, the reality of castles is something so different.

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