Ancient Monuments

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Caernarfon Town Wall

A Scheduled Monument in Caernarfon, Gwynedd

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Latitude: 53.141 / 53°8'27"N

Longitude: -4.2762 / 4°16'34"W

OS Eastings: 247846

OS Northings: 362844

OS Grid: SH478628

Mapcode National: GBR 5H.65QP

Mapcode Global: WH43F.89ZX

Entry Name: Caernarfon Town Wall

Scheduled Date:

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 3608

Cadw Legacy ID: CN034

Schedule Class: Defence

Category: Town Wall

Period: Medieval

County: Gwynedd

Community: Caernarfon

Built-Up Area: Caernarfon

Traditional County: Caernarfonshire


This monument comprises the remains of the medieval town walls of Caernarfon. Begun in 1283 by King Edward I, the town walls incorporate Caernarfon Castle and were built to protect the new town borough.

The walls are constructed from Carboniferous Limestone and measure approximately 734m in length with seven D-shaped towers, one round corner tower and two twin-towered gateways. The walls and towers are provided with arrowloops. The D-towers are open backed so as to expose any attackers who managed to scale the wall. The towers were provided with wooden bridges to allow the continuous wall walk to be patrolled. The bridges could be thrown down against an enemy.

The East Gate (also known as the Exchequer Gate or Porth Mawr) was the principal entrance to the town and was reached by crossing a bridge over the river Cadnant, originally with five stone arches and a drawbridge. The drawbridge was replaced with a stone arch in the 16th century. The arch over the East Gate was widened and raised in 1833. Rooms above the gate housed the royal exchequer which from 1284 served as the administrative and financial centre of the new counties of Anglesey, Caernarfon and Merioneth. Later the town hall (1767) and the Guildhall (1873) were situated here, although these were removed in the 1960s. The West Gate (or Water Gate or Porth yr Aur) is of similar design and led onto the foreshore of the Menai Strait.

During the revolt in 1294 by Madog ap Llywelyn, the Welsh destroyed nearly half the town walls. Edward I put down the rebellion and the walls were quickly rebuilt in 1295. In later years, five openings were broken through the walls to accommodate the increase in traffic.

The monument is of national and international importance for its potential to enhance our knowledge of medieval defensive organisation and the growth of towns. This is reflected by its designation as a World Heritage Site. The monument forms an important element within the wider medieval context and the structure itself may be expected to contain archaeological information in regard to chronology, building techniques and functional detail. The scheduled area comprises the remains described and areas around them within which related evidence may be expected to survive.

Source: Cadw

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