Beaumaris

United Kingdom

Posted: Sep 15, 2021 | Updated: Nov 27, 2021

Beaumaris was originally a Viking settlement known as Porth y Wygyr ("Port of the Vikings"), but the town itself began its development in 1295 when Edward I of England commissioned the building of Beaumaris Castle as part of a chain of fortifications around the North Wales coast (others include Conwy, Caernarfon and Harlech).

The ancient village of Llanfaes, a mile to the north of Beaumaris, had been conquered by the Anglo Saxons in 818 but had been freed by the King of Gwynedd and remained a vital strategic settlement. To counter further Welsh uprisings, and to ensure control of the Menai Strait which separates Anglesey from Wales, Edward I chose the flat coastal plain as the place to build Beaumaris Castle. The castle is considered the most perfect example of a concentric castle and is a designated World Heritage Site.

Beaumaris was awarded a Royal Charter by Edward I which was drawn up on similar terms the charters of his other castle towns in North Wales and intended to invest only the English and Norman-French residents with civic rights. Native Welsh residents of Beaumaris were largely disqualified from holding any civic office, carrying any weapon, holding assemblies and were not allowed to purchase houses or land.


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Posted: Feb 20, 2009 | Updated: Nov 27, 2021

Edward I's last fortress in Wales

Work started in 1295 and continued for 35 years, with over 3,500 workmen employed at the peak of construction. Finances and material ran out when King Edward turned his attentions towards Scotland. Edward died in July 1307 so didn't get to see much of his castle.

Beaumaris Castle is concentric - a castle with two or more concentric rings of curtain walls where the outermost walls are lowest and the height of the walls increases towards the middle to increase the defensive capabilities of the castle: defenders on the higher walls towards the centre could fire arrows at the enemy over the lower outer defences. Should the enemy capture the outer walls, they would face another line of defence.

Caerphilly Castle also in Wales is another excellent examples of this type of fortification and is one of the largest concentric castles in Europe. Note that concentric doesn't mean circle.

1) Beaumaris Castle - Moat and tidal dock
2) Beaumaris Castle - Outer wall
3) Beaumaris Castle - Main gate and tidal dock
4) Beaumaris Castle - South gate
5) Beaumaris Castle - Murder holes in the South gate
6) Beaumaris Castle - Inside the South gate
7) Beaumaris Castle - The inner wall from the outer wall
8) Beaumaris Castle - The inner ward
9) Beaumaris Castle - Across the Menai Strait
10) Beaumaris Castle - From the outer wall to the inner wall

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