Conwy - Not a Concentric Castle Design
Most of the Welsh Castles built by Edward I and Master James of St George, were built as as Concentric Castles. The Concentric Castle design featured at least one lower, outer wall surrounded the Inner High Wall with several outer walls. Outer baileys and moats were often added. The Inner Walls were higher than Outer walls. The location of Conwy Castle was chosen as a natural castle site situated on a huge jutting rock, facing the harbour. There was no room to build the series of defensive walls which were a defensive feature of the great concentric castles. Other defensive mechanisms were put into place!
- Conwy Castle followed the contour of the rock - long and narrow
- Conwy Castle defended by eight massive towers
- Gateways at each end defended by towers at either side and covered by a Barbican
- Two Baileys
- Conwy Castle used its natural advantages and clever design to ensure its security
- Difficult to access
- Steep stairways
- Fortified Towers
- Uninterrupted Wall Walk
- Designed so it could be defended by a small garrison
The Building of Conwy Castle
The history of the building of Conwy Castle is fascinating. In just a relatively short period of time a significant number of new Welsh Medieval Castles were built or modernised under the instructions of King Edward I (1272-1307) including Conwy Castle. King Edward employed the services of an architect and master builder called Master James of St George to carry out many of these ambitious plans for a chain of Medieval castles to be built in Wales. Conwy Castle was built in North Wales on the estuary of the River Gyffin. An important feature of Conwy Castle is its access to the sea. During the construction of Conwy Castle men, equipment and building materials were easily transported by boats to the site of the castle. Once Conwy Castle was built fresh supplies, provisions and reinforcements prevented the castle occupants from being starved into submission during siege warfare. The advantages of swift and easy accessibility via the sea ensured that the new fortified town, which was built at the same time as the castle, became a successful and prosperous stronghold for its English inhabitants.
Conwy - A Welsh Fortified Town (aka Bastide or Burgh)
Conwy Castle was constructed in conjunction with a new, fortified town. The idea of building fortified, purpose-built townships were based on a combination of the Bastides of Gascony and the Burghs, or Burhs, built by King Alfred the Great of England. Welsh Medieval Fortified Townships. The 'Bastide' at Conwy was a strongly defended town, the construction of which, had been subject to proper planning and architectural design.
Conwy Castle was one of the ten key Welsh Medieval Castles which were commissioned by King Edward I. The Welsh Medieval Castles built by the English under the direction of King Edward I provided a power base for the Medieval Plantagenet King and ensured that the Welsh were subservient to the new English rule. Edward crushed the Welsh rebellion under Llewellyn ap Gruffudd and conquered his kingdom of Gwynedd in Northern Wales. Wales was conquered by Edward I and became incorporated into England under the Statute of Rhuddlan ( also called the Statute of Wales ) in 1284 - the building of Conwy Castle helped King Edward I to achieve his ambitions.