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HARLECH

Site Details

© Copyright and database right 2021. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey licence number 0100022206

NPRN 33155

Map Reference SH53SE

Grid Reference SH5830

Unitary (Local) Authority Gwynedd

Old County Merioneth

Community Harlech

Type of Site TOWN

Broad Class CIVIL

Period Multiperiod

Site Description The town of Harlech was planned in conjunction with Harlech Castle (NPRN 93729), which was to be built on the site of an earlier Celtic fortress and form a link in the chain of castles built by Edward I across North Wales following the late thirteenth century conquest of the country. Building began in 1283, and advanced with such speed that only a year later a royal charter was issued granting the town the right to hold a weekly market and four annual fairs.
While Harlech Castle reached enormous proportions, the town remained extremely modest in size, serving primarily as an administrative centre rather than residential, with the Hundred Court and County Sessions meeting there for several centuries. There are records of a borough mill in the locality by 1305, and of a town hall, all physical traces of which are now lost, but tax records indicate that the town had few occupants. In 1404 the majority of the residences were burned by the forces of Owain Glyndwr as he occupied the castle.
During the later Middle Ages the town adopted a ‘sub-urban’ character, based upon small scale rural industries, and this largely survives to this day. While the weekly market no longer takes place, there remain a number of annual fairs in the town. The beautiful location of Harlech and the grandeur of its castle ensure a thriving tourist trade.

K Steele, RCAHMW, 29 December 2008

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