Friday, 6 March 2015

Mapping Mountains – Trimble Surveys – Glyderau

01.03.15  Castell Caernarfon (SH 478 626)

Castell Caernarfon (SH 478 626)
Castell Caernarfon stands as an imposing stone structure beside the Afon Seiont as it flows toward the waters of the Menai Strait.  Nowadays the Castle is maintained by Cadw, which is the Welsh Government’s historic environment service.  However, when built the structure was one of imposition, a structure that was meant to impress and subjugate.

The Castle was commissioned by the then King of England; Edward 1, its cost was vast and estimated as £20,000 - £25,000.  In 1294 the natives became restless and decided that the imposition of a fortress castle on their doorstep which administered north Wales for the then English King was not on, and they sacked it.  A year later it was re-taken by supporters of the King, only to be besieged in the early 1400s by the supporters of the Glyndŵr rising.

Castell Caernarfon is one of the most impressive castles in Wales and forms but one of many that were built around north Wales by supporters of the English King.  I had only visited the inside of the castle once before, many years ago when a child and have little memory of it.  As today was Saint David’s Day, Cadw had opened all its maintained properties for free, and as there was a small matter of a rugby international being played in the afternoon we decided to visit in the morning, this would also give us a number of hours to investigate the castle before the predicted early afternoon rain set in.

There is a contrast between the exterior of the castle and its interior, outside of the stone structure the busy town of Caernarfon has grown, spreading out from the castle, whilst inside is open space with the interior buildings now gone.

The town of Caernarfon spreading out from the castle
As we walked up through one of the gateways to the castle the sheer depth of the exterior walls and their ever present arrow loops gave a forbearing but impressive start to our tour.  I’d brought the Trimble along just for the fun of it as the grounds where the castle stands have little prominence but a height reading from the high point of its interior would be a novel addition to the increasing number of points that it had surveyed.

We visited the Black Tower which is positioned just off centre in the southern walls and climbed its spiral steps for a view from the top.  To our west the Queen’s Tower and Eagle Tower rose to the sky, all connected by a series of high walkways.  Across the Afon Seiont the folly on top of Coed Helen looked down from its grassy perch.

Across the Afon Seiont towards Coed Helen
After investigating a number of walkways and large rooms we headed down to the eastern end of the castle, this is where the high ground within the walls is found, it is also where the Trimble ended up being positioned.  As it sat quietly on the grass gathering data a number of children with swords and shields played out their imaginary battles, once six minutes of data were collected I switched it off and we continued exploring the castle and climbed the Granary Tower for a view over the town and across to the towered southern walls.

Gathering data at Castell Caernarfon
Looking down on the high point of the inner castle
We ended our tour with a look in the museum and as Alun and Laura headed for the climb of the Eagle Tower, Bryn and I walked over the footbridge crossing the river outside the castle for what we hoped would be a good view of the structure.  Today the grey of stone merged with the grey of sky, the latter was now depositing the predicted rain and so we headed back to the car.

Survey Result:

Castell Caernarfon

Summit Height:  18.1m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SH 47854 62670

Drop:  5m

Dominance:  27.60%

For further details please consult the Trimble survey spreadsheet click {here}

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