Ancient Monuments

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Criccieth Castle

A Scheduled Monument in Criccieth (Cricieth), Gwynedd

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Latitude: 52.9159 / 52°54'57"N

Longitude: -4.2324 / 4°13'56"W

OS Eastings: 249991

OS Northings: 337719

OS Grid: SH499377

Mapcode National: GBR 5K.NBBQ

Mapcode Global: WH44D.YYQZ

Entry Name: Criccieth Castle

Scheduled Date:

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 294

Cadw Legacy ID: CN015

Schedule Class: Defence

Category: Castle

Period: Medieval

County: Gwynedd

Community: Criccieth (Cricieth)

Built-Up Area: Criccieth

Traditional County: Caernarfonshire


Criccieth is a native castle of Llywelyn Fawr, later altered by Edward I. The information panels on the site attribute the inner ward to Llywelyn Fawr (Ll. ab Iorwerth) and the outer to Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, and Edward is credited with substantially reconstructing and heightening both the SE tower, in the wall of the inner ward, and the SW tower, and with converting the N tower to take a siege engine. The inner gatehouse was heightened under Edward II. The castle fell and was burnt down in 1404 during the Glyndwr rising.

The main surviving remains of this tower are the N wall and parts of the E wall; the two outer walls seem to have pretty well fallen over the edge. Much of the outer face appears to have fallen away from the curtain wall on the S running from this tower across to the outer gatehouse. The latter is of simple design, with a passage running through the remains of a square tower. Masonry foundations in the turf of this area may suggest the presence of buildings.

A postern to the S of the SE tower gives access from the outer into the inner ward, where there are various features, perhaps suggesting a kitchen; foundations indicate a structure against the inner side of the curtain here on the S. There is another information panel on the inside of the inner gatehouse, with the map now the other way up to suit the viewer's orientation. This suggests that the battlements were rebuilt by Edward I and heightened by Edward II. A cistern fed by a natural spring is covered by an iron grille at the inner end of the passage; stairs behind led to the upper floors. The W of the two gate towers was probably that known as the Cistern tower.

A fair amount survives of the SE or Leyburn tower; there is a platform in the near left-hand corner as one enters from the courtyard, while living rock visible on the floor suggests that the actual flooring was at a higher level. The corners have fallen away, but otherwise masonry survives to a height of 3.0 m or thereabouts.

The N or Engine tower has a shallow, stepped ramp up its SE side, presumably to provide access for the siege engine, although it is not entirely clear from the remains on the ground how this was achieved. This ramp is a clear addition to the original tower, with a very obvious straight joint following the original outer face. There are signs of a blocked postern through the outer curtain wall just by this ramp. The curtain in general survives much better at this N end than around the S. There are points of access through the curtain to a turfed area with seats, telescopes etc. from which the superb views which the site, on its isolated rock, commands can be appreciated.

The monument is of national importance for its potential to enhance our knowledge of medieval settlement and defence. It retains significant archaeological potential, with a strong probability of the presence of associated archaeological features and deposits. The structures themselves may be expected to contain archaeological information concerning chronology and building techniques.

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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