Harlech Castle is located at Harlech, in Gwynedd, North Wales. The mediaeval fortress was constructed by King Edward I towards the end of the thirteenth century, as part of his ‘Iron Ring’ of castles, built around North Wales to subdue and conquer the Welsh.
The castle was built on the top of a cliff, close to the Irish sea, and was virtually impregnable. The sea originally came much closer to Harlech than in modern times, and a water-gate and a long flight of steps leads down from the castle to the former shore, which allowed the castle to be resupplied by sea during sieges.
The castle ruins are now managed by Cadw, the Welsh Government’s historic environment service, as a tourist attraction.
Along with Caernarfon Castle, Conwy Castle and Beaumaris Castle, this monument has been part of the Castles and Town Walls of Edward 1 World Heritage Site since 1986.
“Men of Harlech”, the nation’s unofficial anthem, loved by rugby fans and regimental bands alike, is said to describe the siege which took place here during the War of the Roses, wherein a handful of men held out against a besieging army of thousands. [The Wars of the Roses were a series of wars for control of the throne of England. They were fought between supporters of two rival branches of the royal House of Plantagenet, those of Lancaster and York. The name Wars of the Roses refers to the heraldic badges associated with the two royal houses, the White Rose of York and the Red Rose of Lancaster. Wikipedia]