With the Roman fort of Caerleon and the beautiful Brecon Beacons National Park now just recent memories, next on my Welsh tour was Caerphilly Castle, one of the truly great strongholds of medieval Europe. With its bold inner defences overlooking and commanding the lower outer walls and salients, Caerphilly is often cited as fine example of the 'concentric' or 'walls-within-walls' principle of fortification.
The castle was built at breakneck speed in response to the major political and military threat from Prince Llywelyn ap Gruffudd of Gwynedd. By the 1260s the prince had advanced his frontiers to within a few miles of Caerphilly. In the event, Caerphilly's short history as a front line fortress ended with the punitive wars in North Wales by Edward I in 1276-77 and 1282-83. With the removal of the threat and that of smaller rebellions, from the mid 14th century this once magnificent castle was allowed to fall into decay.
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