#147 Castell Caernarfon
Gwynedd, Wales
This is NOT an official Lego site

Caernarfon Castle is without a doubt one of the most magnificent medieval fortresses in the world. It began as a motte and bailey castle in the late 11th century, built by Anglo-Norman Hugh of Avranches, Earl of Chester. The circular motte was located where the Queen's Gate now stands, with the bailey likely extending to the north-east. A town grew north-west of the castle, toward the Menai Strait. By 1115 Gwynedd was back in the hands of the native Welsh lords and remained so for the next 165 years, when the Welsh, tired of English law, launched a war of independence. Edward I responded with a war of conquest which lasted until the death of Llywelyn the Last in 1277 and Dafydd was executed in 1283.
The Welsh were by no means completely subdued however, and Edward I undertook to greatly strengthen his castles in north Wales, including the newly acquired Caernarfon, the traditional administrative center of north-west Wales. Edward hired the famed James of St. George to design the castle and the walls around the town. Construction proceeded with great vigour for the next 11 years, with the imposing south face of the castle virtually complete, but just a wide grassy moat and wooden stockade separating the north side of the castle from the newly walled town. In 1294 Madog ap Llywelyn staged a highly successful raid on Caernarfon, destroying parts of the town wall, sacking the town and burning everything flammable in the castle.
The following summer, Edward's vigorous reaction resulted in the recapture of Caernarfon, and the king not only set about repairing the town walls, but erecting stone walls and towers on the north face of the castle to rival those of the south side. The fortress withstood sieges by Owain Glyndŵr and his French allies in 1403-4, and three more sieges by the Parliamentarian Major-General Mytton before being captured in 1646.  In 1660 the English government ordered the demolition of Caernarfon, but fortunately the order was by and large ignored, and one of the world's most beautiful castles is preserved for the enjoyment of all. The investitures of Edward [later Edward VII] in 1911 and Charles in 1969 as Princes of Wales took place in Caernarfon.
Model of town and castle
Investiture of Charles
as Prince of Wales 1969
Illustration of attack by Madog
ap Llywelyn in 1294
Ground Plan from Guidebook Another Ground Plan Cross-section through Courtyard looking South


Photos of the Lego Model
under construction March 2105

This huge project, like my recent model of Rhuddlan Castle, was photographed from beginning to end,
so the talented Jamie Robins of Equinox Communications in Cardiff, Wales could produce a time-lapse
video. It came out on June 17 and is
on YouTube here.
The castle is laid out on March 9, the
model to be 9 1/2 feet long.
After 2 weeks of work, five of the six
sections are built up to the courtyard
level. This view is from the southwest.
Built atop the old motte, the
Queen's Gate/NE Tower section
is saved for last.
The northwest view confirms that
the Water Gate, which no longer
exists, may need to be redone.
Only the Eagle Tower [above right] and Well
Tower [foreground] have basements, both
leading to postern (and supply) gates
The King's Gate was never completed,
but my model attempts to show it as it
would have looked.
I took a break from filming on March
30 to take a trio of pictures.
The view from the NW shows
the Water Gate before it was
completely rebuilt.
And there has been immense progress
on the difficult Queen's Gate and
Cistern, Watch and NE Towers.
Here are a quartet of pictures taken
on April 14, with the Eagle and Queen's
Towers in the foreground here.
The Water Gate has been
modeled after the Traitor's
Gate at the Tower of London.
Try to ignore the red dragon in
the middle courtyard.  You'll soon
watch it fly in the video.
We finally have a door and drawbridge
in the lofty Queen's Gate at the east
end of the castle.
On April 24 progress has been made
on the Eagle and Queen's Towers...
...as well as the King's Gate and
Well Tower.
The Queen's Gate and nearby
towers seem about as they
were, but not for long!
On April 30, 4 days before our trip
to actually visit the castle, the
Queen's Tower has a roof.
There has been major progress
on the Eagle and Well Towers...
...and another story added to the
Northeast Tower.
It is the Queen's Gate, however,
which is quickly becoming a
powerful deterrent to attack.
Work resumes on May 28, and by June
8 tall turrets can be seen on the
Queen's and other towers.
The King's Gate is also complete
and the Granary and Well
Towers are battlemented.
The NE and Watch Towers
are complete, as is the Queen's
...all in the nick of time with Brickworld
Chicago just 10 days away!


Photos of the Lego Model
Built March - June, 2015

The castle is finally completed on
June 13.
The Eagle Tower is
decorated with dark
gray parrots in lieu of
an eagle by Lego Group.
The ease of delivery of supplies via
the water gate and Well Tower can
easily be appreciated in this view
from the northwest.
The north side of the castle faces the walled town
of Caernarfon with the main entrance through
the King's Gate in the middle [see more below].
Here is the view of the castle
from the NNE.
The great length of the
castle can be fully
enjoyed looking over
the tiny Watch Tower
The other entrance to the upper
ward is via a long ramp [which no
longer exists] through the
Queen's Gate.
The King's Gate is the
main entrance to both
the lower and upper
The gatehouse was never
completed, but helpful
advice from Bill Zajac of
Cadw allowed an attempt...
...to show the octagonal
room which would have
directed visitors into either
ward or trapped enemies.
The lower ward
unusually contains
what would be the
keep in most castles.
The lower ward also
contains the Great Hall,
kitchen and Well Tower.
Here is a view of the lower
ward from the vicinity of
the Eagle Tower.
The view as one enters the upper
ward is of the Northeast Tower
and Queen's Gate. both on the
edge of the old motte.
It is unclear if the two embattled
residential ranges were ever
built.  Just windows with seats
and arrow slits remain.


Build Your Own
I'll probably not attempt to scan the plan and elevations as they so large...
Lego Plan?

Other Castell Caernarfon pages:

Return to the main castle page.

Castles created by Robert Carney
Page designed & maintained by
Robert Carney