Remnants of 13th-Century Town Walls Unearthed in Wales

The Welsh town of Caernarfon played a crucial role in the fraught history between England and Wales; here, in the late 13th century, English king Edward I built an imposing castle to solidify his conquest of the region. Recently, during a survey ahead of construction, archaeologists stumbled upon several important relics from Caernarfon’s medieval past—including possible remnants of the town walls that surrounded Edward I’s castle.

caernarfon walls
Archaeologists excavated the site ahead of construction of a new health center.
Photo: C.R. Archaeology

According to Arron Evans of the North Wales Chronicle, the C.R. Archaeology firm carried out its survey at Porth yr Aur, or “Golden Gate,” which was once the main seaward entrance to the borough adjacent to Caernarfon Castle. The area is now owned by a local “social enterprise” that plans to build a community health center there.

One of the key discoveries unearthed at the site was a flight of steps. As archaeologist Matthew Jones tells North Wales Live’s Amelia Shaw, the find is “very exciting” because it “could represent the remains of the original town wall, which was … built over in the 14th century.”

In the Middle Ages, according to the BBC, Welsh princes were vassals of the English king, but in the late 13th century, Prince Llywelyn ap Gruffudd—who had tussled with Edward’s father, Henry III—refused the English king’s summons to pay him public homage. Edward stormed into Gwynedd, the seat of Llywelyn’s power, and forced the prince into submission. Llywelyn’s geographic influence was greatly restricted, and after he began leading an uprising against the English crown in 1282, he was killed in a skirmish.

Read the full story on Smithsonian Magazine

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