Saturday, 3 May 2014

CRICCIETH



Criccieth's neat Victorian terraces are dominated by the ruins of its castle, high up on a grassy headland overlooking the bay.  The castle was built by the Welsh prince Llywelyn ap Gruffudd in the 13th century, but passed to the English when it was captured by Edward I in 1283.  However, the Welsh managed to grab it back in 1404, when it was taken by Owain Glyndwr during his rebellion.  The damage done to the castle during the final siege are still visible today in the form of cracks in the stonework.  The castle is run by Cadw, and has a visitor centre with an exhibition on castles built by the Welsh princes and on the 12th-century churchman Gerald of Wales, aka Giraldus Cambrensis.  The artist JMW Turner was inspired to paint the castle as a dramatic backdrop to a stormy scene with shipwrecked mariners being pulled from the sea.  The painting, titled simply Criccieth Castle, is on display at The British Museum.

To either side of the headland there are sand and pebble beaches, backed by a sea wall which shelters the seafront hotels.  The town, which is a popular family resort, has a pleasant mix of shops selling works by local artists, crafts and jewellery, and there is a terrific ice cream shop just below the castle.  The centrepoint of the town is the former medieval common known as Y Maes, and this is the venue for the annual Fairs held in early summer, one in May and another in June.  The Fairs date from the 13th century, and consist of a market, a funfair and much evening revelry.  A short distance from Criccieth is the village of Llanystumdwy, where former British Prime Minister David Lloyd George grew up.  There is a museum dedicated to him in the village, and he is also buried there.

Map of the area.

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Photo by Lesbardd, via Wikimedia Commons

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