GetOutside Champion: Jack Thurston
Jack has been poring over OS maps since very first teenage cycling trips from north London to Hertfordshire and the Chilterns.
If you’re planning a trip to the beautiful location of Snowdonia, you’ll most likely be looking into what you can do while you’re there. For the history lovers, Snowdonia is a goldmine of stunning historical locations steeped in culture, legend and stories from the past.
Read on and find out which of the many locations in Snowdonia we think you should visit to discover the history of the area.
Caernafon Castle is probably the most famous of all of the castles in Wales, rising above the Menai Strait, and astounding visitors with its sheer size and scale.
It was built in 1283 by Edward I as a military stronghold, but also served the purpose of a seat of government and royal palace for the king. The castle was designed to emulate the architectural design of Constantinople, the capital city of the Roman and Byzantine Empire. It was also said to represent the dream castle of Welsh myth and legend, 'the fairest that ever man saw'.
If you’re planning on visiting Caernarfon, make sure to take part in the walks along the walls to really get a sense of the history of the site. There are also some fantastic imaginative exhibitions located within the towers that can be discovered along these wall walks. The castle is also home to the Regimental Museum of the Royal Welch Fusiliers, Wales's oldest regiment.
Dolbadarn Castle is situated in a unique position in the Welsh countryside, above Llyn Padarn, and between Caernarfon and Snowdonia. It was built by the Welsh Princes in the 13th Century and protected the north area of Wales from attack, by allowing the garrison to blockade anyone’s movement through the Llanberis Pass.
The castle was used as a manor house for some time before falling into ruin. After it’s ruin, it was often considered a desirable destination for painters, since the views of Wales’ characteristic green landscape and towering mountains were awe-inspiring.
Don’t forget to climb up into the tower and see exactly what guards would have seen, keeping an eye out for any attackers!
The magnificent views from the headland which houses Criccieth Castle make it a crucial place to visit if you’re looking for historical sites across Wales. It was in such a desirable location that the Welsh and the English fought over it many times, and it changed hands just as frequently.
One of the most interesting aspects of the castle is that, due to the number of different owners and all the different changes made to the buildings, it is hard to determine which part of the castle came from which time period. No one quite knows what form the castle took in its first instance, and it’s also difficult to know whether it was the Welsh or English who built it.
During your visit, make sure to look out for the exhibits and information on Welsh castles, as well as, exhibits on the Anglo-Norman writer Gerald of Wales, best known for his topographies, which were some of the first descriptions of Ireland and Wales.
Tomen y Mur is a Roman fort, situated in Gwynedd, and constructed in 78 AD. When the Romans first occupied Britain, they found quite hostile resistance in this area, and the fort was constructed to provide some safety and security for communications and maintain order amongst the local people during the guerrilla attacks.
Nowadays, the fort has fallen into ruin, but some of the walls have been reconstructed to give a true sense of what it would have been like, so many years ago. The site itself had been a key location for Celtic mythology and Welsh legend as the site where Lleu sought revenge on his wife and her lover.
Nestled deep in Snowdonia National Park, the beautiful landscape surrounding this fort is breath-taking, and perfect for capturing some fantastic photographs of the Welsh countryside and exploring it through walks.
Founded for the Cistercian order in 1198, this simple abbey church has a great and varied history, much like the other sites on this list, for having simple beginnings and then being involved in the wars of Edward I. It started off life as an abbey dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and provided a home for the Cistercian community that tended to their sheep and horses for Llewelyn the Great.
However, after the dissolution of the 1530s, not much of the abbey survives. The remaining ruins include walls surviving about nave archway height and the remains of the church and the west tower. You are also able to see the foundations of the cloister and other monastic buildings.
The surrounding landscape is still very picturesque, especially with the ruins of the abbey to juxtapose the natural greenness of the area. So visit and explore the abbey, marvel at the aspects that are still standing and feel the rich history that is embedded into the very stone.