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Site Details

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

NPRN 95769

Map Reference SH67NW

Grid Reference SH6072376245

Unitary (Local) Authority Isle of Anglesey

Old County Anglesey

Community Beaumaris

Type of Site CASTLE

Broad Class DEFENCE

Period Medieval

Site Description Beaumaris Castle was begun in 1295, the last link in the ring of defence provided for the north Wales seaboard by Edward I, located close to the water's edge on the Isle of Anglesey. A thriving borough was laid out alongside the castle (NPRN 32989), with the castle's constable acting as its mayor.

Although construction of the stone castle continued almost continuously for thirty-five years, the original plan was never achieved. The intended residential ranges were not begun and the towers and gates of the inner ward lack their upper storeys, giving the castle a low and unassuming aspect.
The castle was maintained throughout the medieval period. The disorders of the early fifteenth century saw the castle beleaguered after which the town was walled (NPRN 302768). The castle was put in order and garrisoned during the English Civil War, but does not seem to have been maintained after its surrender in 1646. It was returned to State care in 1925, and despite some partial demolition in areas, the castle remains largely intact.

Beaumaris, like Rhuddlan (NPRN 92914), Aberystwyth (NPRN 86) and Harlech (NPRN 93729), had a concentric layout, with the square courtyard surrounded by an enclosing ward, with round towers at the corners, D-plan towers along the east and west sides, and twin towered gate houses to the north and south, the south gate being flanked by the projecting 'Gunners Walk' (NPRN 302767). This is then encircled by a moat fed by tidal waters.

Sources: RCAHMW Anglesey Inventory (1937), 8-13
Taylor, A. 1999. Beaumaris Castle: Cadw Guide (4th edition)

K Steele, RCAHMW, 3 November 2008.

Beaumaris Castle was the last castle to begin construction as part of Edward I’s ring of fortification around north Wales. Construction began in 1295, but progressed slowly and the intended towers and gates of the inner ward lack their upper storeys, giving the castle a low and unassuming aspect.

The strategic location and strict trade rules attached to the establishment of Beaumaris contributed to the development of the town and port into the financial and shipping centre of Anglesey up until the seventeenth century. Although the castle remained unfinished, its tactical situation made it a target of armed conflict. In 1403, rebels associated with Owain Glyndŵr captured Beaumaris and held it for two years and for three years during the English Civil War, the local Bulkeley family defended the castle for the King.

By the nineteenth century the moat surrounding Beaumaris Castle had silted up and the walls were largely overgrown with vines. Despite the outward dilapidation, Prince Hermann von Pückler-Muskau was delighted that the chambers inside the gate tower and the chapel were in good repair. But he took the gravest of exceptions with the tennis court which the Bulkeleys, the former defenders, had installed on the lawn of the castle yard. The castle is now a UNESCO world heritage site.

Record updated as part of the AHRC-funded project 'Journey to the Past: Wales in historic travel writing from France and Germany'.
R. Singer (Bangor University) and S. Fielding (RCAHMW), 2017.

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