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Caernarfon - Overview

Facing Anglesey, Caernarfon is situated on the south-western half of the Menai Strait. The earliest occupation is found at the Roman fort of Segontium, which was built to subdue the rebelling Ordovices, the Celtic tribe living then in this region. Internationally, this large town is mostly known for its castle, built by the English king Edward I, who fortified the town and banned all Welsh people from living inside the town walls after the defeat of Llewelyn ap Gruffudd in 1282. In the twentieth century it was used for the investiture of two Princes of Wales, first in 1911 and latterly in 1969.

While the character of the town remained essentially rural during the nineteenth century, Caernarfon’s prime location in proximity to the slate quarries of north Wales contributed to the development of its harbour. From here, high-quality slates in all colours, shapes and sizes were shipped to the four corners of the world.

Many tourists came to Caernarfon either to explore the picturesque ruins of the Norman castle or take advantage of the town’s close proximity to Snowdonia. In 1828, Prince Herman von Pückler-Muskau engaged a local boy and his horse carriage for a journey to Llanberis, which they reached in only half an hour because the boy interpreted the Prince’s shouts of fear as encouragement to hurtle along the roads at an even faster pace. In 1862, the French journalist Alfred Erny experienced the locality at a more leisurely pace. He spent a few days exclusively in the town and produced a detailed account of his visit to the Eisteddfod held inside the castle. He was surprised, however, that in this most Welsh-speaking corner of the country, the majority of the public speeches were given in English.

Accounts of Travel

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