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Caernarfon Castle



  • Caernarfon Castle, Caernarfon

Other Information

  • The tallest part of Caernarfon Castle is the western Eagle Tower, an octagonal stone tower with three towerettes on top of it boosting the height further to give advantage to the defenders. The true intention however was the projection of English King's imperial tower in a very visual way over what was at the time, a rebellious area.
  • The octagonal design, integrated with the connecting walls is a linear design, rather than the curved designs popular in England and Wales at that time, and is believed to be inspired by the Theodosian Walls of Constantinople (now Istanbul). At the time this form of fortification had earned a reputation at the Byzantine city of being impregnable.
  • Despite its lofty height, the Eagle Tower does not take its name from that but rather from the fact that the upper battlements have small eagle sculptures on the top of them.
  • Until the 19th century the Eagle Tower was taller as it had sea level on two sides, but this was filled in to expand the local port and is today occupied by a road and car park. It is still the tallest castle in the United Kingdom despite this.
  • Originally built with the intention of supplying accommodation for the aristocracy including a private chapel, the Eagle Tower, along with the other three main towers, was constructed as part of the first phase of the development of the castle from 1283 to 1285, with Master James of St George working as the architect.
  • At the time the castle had no encompassing walls of its own and instead relied on those of neighbouring town with only a ditch for defense. The north wall and ever-extended gatehouses were added during the second phase of building which ran from 1295 to 1330 in response to the Welsh having overrun the stronghold.
  • By the time construction had finished in 1330, the plans for the outer defenses still hadn't been completed, but Caernarfon Castle had sucked up 25,000 in costs, a huge amount for a country where the government's annual budget was only 20,000 a year. Prices of the day for the equivalent of "executive" house, a stone building with two bedrooms, a great hall, and a wine cellar cost 30. That makes the castle the equivalent of 290 million pounds today.

News Articles

09-09-2010 > Climbing Great Buildings


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Master James of St George

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Building Location

Castle Ditch, Caernarfon. LL55 2AY
Gwynedd County Council
United Kingdom

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World Heritage Site

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Metres > Feet