Harlech Castle: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about Harlech Castle.

  • Harlech Castle is a 13th century castle, constructed on the orders of England’s King Edward I. It is located in the town of Harlech in North Wales, on a cliff overlooking the coast.
  • The castle originally overlooked the sea, although the coastline has changed since then. Today there is a golf course on the land between the castle and the Irish Sea.

  • It was built as part of a defensive ring of castles designed to help strengthen English control over Wales. Other well known Welsh castles include Beaumaris, Conwy and Caernarvon.
  • Harlech Castle is a good example of a concentric castle. It had an outer and inner wall for extra protection, and was also almost symmetrical in shape.

Harlech Castle

  • At one point, almost 1,000 workers were building the huge castle. It cost about 10,000 pounds to build, a huge amount back then which was about 10 percent of King Edward’s entire military budget.
  • Harlech Castle is protected by 4 huge round towers, as well as a strong gatehouse, or entrance.
  • The castle walls are 12 metres high and several metres thick in places.
  • The castle was strong enough to withstand a seven year siege during the 15th century. Food and supplies were able to be delivered to the castle by sea, using a long flight of stone steps.
  • The song the Men of Harlech was written about the siege. It has become almost a Welsh national anthem and became popular after featuring in the 1964 film Zulu.
  • The castle was designed by master castle builder James of St. George. The medieval architect was influenced by castle design in parts of Europe, including France.
  • Harlech Castle played an important role during the Wars of the Roses in the 15th century.

What next? Discover more castle facts by visiting our castles resources page.