The original castle on the site where Caernarfon now sits was one of three built by Hugh d’Avranches, a Norman knight, around 1088, and would have been a wooden motte and bailey structure, sat beside the river Seiont and the Menai Straits. But the impressive stone castle that we are left with to day was built by Edward I after his war with the Welsh which began in 1282.
Edward built three large, state of the art castles on the Welsh coast, starting with Conwy in 1283, and following this up with Harlech and Caernarfon. It is likely that the design of the castle was by James of Saint George, and Caernarfon really was a no expenses spared build with eleven octagonal towers, and a huge wall thrown up around the town. A massive ditch was cut between the castle, sea and river, turning it into an island connected by the drawbridge in front of the Queen’s gate.
It is thought that the heritage of the near by large Roman fort Segontium influenced the design of Caernarfon, and that it was built to resemble a Byzantine Roman fort. There in a legend that during the excavations for the castle the body of the Roman emperor Magnus Maximus was found, and that Edward ordered the body to be reburied in a local church.
Edward travelled to the castle with his wife during the construction so that she could bear his son in Wales; he would be a Welsh born Prince of Wales. The castle was very incomplete and accommodation would have been temporary wooden structures.
Strange to think that during the time of construction of this castle the Roman fort was as old to them as the castle now is to us, yet the medieval educated people may have been more in touch with their Roman heritage than we might think.
Our picture was taken just before sunset, from the South side of the River Seiont, using a Canon 5DII and an old Nikkor 50mm f/2 lens.