• LOCATION 3 | Discovering Conwy: The Medieval Walled Town on a Waterfront

    Conwy Castle

    Stop here and face the castle - the best viewing is from the corner near the town wall.

    Your first thought will be how huge it is. Imagine being a Welsh peasant living in a shack, looking at these massive walls. Impressive hey? The Castle - like the others in the iron ring - Caernarfon, Harlech, Beaumaris etc. - is a world heritage site for two reasons.

    The first is because they were the cutting edge military design of the period and the man responsible was James of St. George from Savoy in Northern France. The second reason is that, once Wales was conquered it became unimportant so, unlike say Windsor castle that was lived in and had bedrooms and bathrooms inserted, these castles were relatively untouched and so we can see what the original builders intended.

    Let's look a little further at the design. Like all Edward's castles it is built on the sea and between two rivers. A rock ditch was extracted on the land side- look below where the road runs along it now. Also there are a myriad of defences built in, meaning the castle could be held by as few as 25 men.

    Let's take a closer look at these.

    Firstly, to the left you see a gap that the modern walkway runs through. Bridging this gap was the first defence, a drawbridge reached by a sloping ramp you can still see the remains of the the left of the gap. We'll see where the winding mechanism was later on this tour.

    However, it takes a while to crank up the bridge and - you've seen those old Erol Flynn movies, there's always someone who grabs hold of the edge and hauls themselves in - so behind this there are several other barriers.

    First of all you'd have to pass through a few portcullises - the grid like gates that is the Westminster parliament's logo. They look metal but they were usually made of wood with lead covering. They were wedged up and someone would knock the wedges out when the attack started. Bang, Bang, the gates fall in their grooves and trap any early incomers in a killing zone. Above this would be murder holes where all sorts of nasties would be dropped on your head.

    But, even if you survive that - and the arrows being fired from the slots - , you are still not in the Castle. The wall between the smaller towers in front of you surrounds a barbican. A barbican is a defended gateway and part of the defence to the main gate would be hoarding - boards placed between the buttresses you can see peeking out above the main door. These enabled defenders to lean over and attack anyone trying to burn or batter their way through the main gate.

    I really recommend a visit to the castle - it's a lot easier to get in now - you just need a ticket!

    Now turn with your back to the castle and walk with the walls on your left, down to the end of the carpark.

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Discovering Conwy: The Medieval Walled Town on a Waterfront