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Site Details

© Copyright and database right 2020. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey licence number 0100022206

NPRN 26459

Map Reference SH46SW

Grid Reference SH4403860942

Unitary (Local) Authority Gwynedd

Old County Caernarfonshire

Community Llandwrog

Type of Site FORT

Broad Class DEFENCE

Period 18th Century, Post Medieval

Site Description Fort Belan (originally known as Fort David) was begun in 1775 by Thomas Wynn as a coastal battery for his Caernarvonshire Militia; this was previously garrisoned at the smaller Fort Williamsburg which he had built in 1761 at his family home, Glynllifon. It was the American War of Independence that created the background to Wynn's decision to build Fort Belan and it is the only British purpose-built defence relating to this war. Following the French invasion of Wales in 1797 the vulnerability of Britain's coast led to Wynn, now Lord Newborough, garrisoning Belan with the 'Loyal Newborough Volunteers' which were regarded as one of the best equipped regiments in the country. In 1824-6 the fort was extended and given additional guns and the adjoining dock was built (NPRN 34157).

The fort is based upon the polygonal system with a curtain-wall and concentric walls enclosing a stone-reveted ditch and inner parade and barracks. It is oblong in plan with salients to the north and south ends and is constructed of rubblestone with slate roofs to the inner ranges. At the landward end the wall projects in the form of a redan containing a gun platform with broadly battered walls and rounded corners; an inner wall runs from this towards the circular sentry towers to west and east and then north as a further defence to the inner barracks.

The main entrance is through a vaulted tunnel under the gun platform and across the ditch via a drawbridge; the tunnel has ashlar surrounds to the round-arched gateways at either end. This leads to the crenellated perimeter wall (part cement-rendered to south and buttressed to sides) of the inner parade and its gatehouse with mock cross-loops and broad archways flanked by rectangular gun-ports; over the arch is a plaque of a double-headed eagle, the Wynn family emblem. Outbuildings at this end include stables to east with brick voussoirs and possible magazine to west.

The barrack quarters (partly later) to the west and east sides of the grassed parade are cement rendered with mostly monopitch slate roofs, cement-rendered chimneys and various small-pane sash windows and porches with segmental arched entrances. At the extreme north end is a gun battery platform which retains fourteen cannon dated 1846 or 1847 and one smaller cannon to centre. On either side, sunk between the inner wall-walk and parade buildings at the centre are half-hipped roof buildings; that to east is of rubblestone with broad carriage arch and half-glazed doors and that to the west is weatherboarded. At the north-west end is the former bakehouse and at the north end of the east side is a postern gate which enters underneath the inner wall-walk.

Fort Belan is now used as self-catering holiday accommodation, with six cottages accomodating up to forty-five people, it is often hired by special interest groups.

Cadw listing database

S Fielding, RCAHMW 02 August 2005 (edited 3 November 2011).

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