Picturesquely situated on the south end of the Menai Straits, about 9 miles from Bangor, and on the mouth of the river Seiont, Caernarvon is famed for its great castle, rivalled only by that of Alnwick in Northumberland.
As a means to retaining their dominance in Wales, the English created a series of Royal boroughs, fortified with castles, as bastions of English overlordship. In N. Wales the castled boroughs were, principally, Conway and Caernarvon, Criccieth, Harlech, and Beaumaris in Anglesey. The Castles of Conway and Caernarvon were built in 1284, with later additions. Caernarvon, “Caer-ar-Fon,” or “Fortress facing Anglesey,” is ancient place, for here stood the old British fort of Cear Seiont, and later the Roman Camp of Segontium. In the days of the Welsh resistance it became the outpost of the Welsh stronghold of Eryri or Snowdonia. For the visitor the town offers a 9-hole golf course, as well as trout and salmon fishing on the Seiont, Gwyrfai, and in the nearby lakes.
The Castle, a vast irregular structure, surrounded on three sides by water, and shaped rather like a figure eight, has massive polygonal towers, with pinnacles on top. The earliest part, comprising the Eagle, Queen's and Chamberlain tower, was built between 1284-1291. In 1294, in the rising of the Welsh under Prince Madoc Ap Llewellyn, the Castle was I besieged and captured, the town put to fire and sword. The rising was quelled the following year, however, and building continued till 1301, by which time the area between the Black, Cistern and N.E. towers was completed, at a cost of £ 4300. Finally, between 1315 and 1322 the Granary and Well towers and the Kings Gate were added, thus completing the great circuit.
The biggest siege of Caernarvon was made by the famous Owen Glyndwr in 1401,1403 and 1404, with French assistance. But, although the garrison was at times only 100 strong, the castle did not fall. During the Civil it changed hands many times. Since then it has lain empty, except when, in 1914, it saw the great investiture of Prince Edward (later Edward VIII) as Prince of Wales. The town of Caernarvon is also famed for its fine walls. Although they are not quite entire, and do not permit a promenade round the town, they are in excellent repair and impressively massive. Of great interest, too, is a fragment of the wall of Roman Segontium, which can be seen on the Beddgelert road beyond the Post Office. On Twt Hill, overlooking the town, stands the huge and ugly Pavilion in which is held the annual Eisteddfod.