#42 & #170 Harlech Castle
Gwynedd, Wales
1283-90
"Castell cadarn a'i safle grymus ar ben y graig"
This is NOT an official Lego site

"A mighty castle superbly situated on a rocky crag" is an apt description for Harlech, after seven centuries still the most magnificent achievement of Master James of St. George. So pleased in fact was King Edward I that he made James the constable of Harlech from the castle's completion until 1293, while James was overseeing construction of Beaumaris and Caernarfon Castles, also in north Wales. The massive gatehouse is 80 x 54 feet and the twin cylindrical towers guard a passageway with three portcullis' and three sets of doors!  The initial phase of construction, in 1283, was to build the inner castle in stone up to a height of about 15 feet, in order to protect the workforce, of up to 950 men, from attack by the Welsh lords.
The impregnability of Harlech to attack was proven when a Welsh force led by Madog ap Llywelyn was held off by 37 men in 1294. Despite being completely cut off by land, the castle was able to be supplied from the nearby sea with shipments from Ireland.  Harlech was, however, not insusceptible to siege. Harlech was taken in 1404 by Owain Glyndwr but only by starving the diseased garrison into surrendering. Tradition suggests that Owain had himself formally crowned prince of Wales during his relatively brief tenure at Harlech.  Another long siege five years later led by Harry of Monmouth, Prince of Wales (and later King Henry V) forced Owain to give up his headquarters at Harlech, resulted in the capture of his wife and four children, and ended his rebellion and career. Harlech played an important role in the War of the Roses.  It gave shelter to the wife of King Henry VI, Margaret of Anjou, in 1460, and was held for the Lancastrians by a Welsh constable from 1461-8.  John Warkworth wrote "Kyng Edward [IV] was possessed of alle Englonde, excepte a castelle in Northe Wales called Harlake"  Edward empowered Sir William Herbert of Raglan to capture Harlech in 1468.  Herbert laid siege with a force to 7,000 to 10,000 men, but it took almost a month for the constable's force of 50 men (at the end) to surrender.  Harlech was the last castle to surrender to Cromwell in early 1647, thus signaling the end of phase one of the English Civil War.  The Parliamentarians rendered the castle untenable, but an order to demolish was happily ignored.  Though bereft of its floors and roofs, the main structure survived very well.  It gradually garnered the attention of various artists, and with repairs carried out in both the 19th and 20th centuries, it's become a popular tourist stop.



General Plan of
the Castle
Plan of the
Great Gatehouse
Cutaway View of
the Gatehouse
Plan and Section
of the Gatehouse
Photos of the Lego Model
Built December 1991
Construction View #1
Construction View #2
Construction View #3
Construction View #4
Norheast View East View Southwest view West View

 

Photos of the Lego Model
Under construction in August-September 2018
On August 7 the new model of Harlech
is laid out. It will be more than 2
times
larger than the 1991 model!
The next nine days are spent landscaping,
with the dry moat level the zero elevation
of the new model.
By August 26th the terrain of the outer
bailey is complete.
I am planning to leave the outer
battlements off while I'm at work
on the inner castle.
On August 29 the inner bailey
landscaping is complete.
It's time to begin building the
magnificent inner castle!

By September 4 towers are beginning
to rise above the level of the outer ward.
Entrances are arched, and the
pentice has posts for an eventual
roof.
More definition has occurred by Sept.
16, with portcullises in place, and some
first story windows visible.
The Ystumgwerm Hall and
granary are roofed, as is the
pentice, with stairs to the
musicians loft.

Basic construction of the gatehouse
stair is done, and the bakehouse
appears to be functioning!
The intriguing stair from
the NE tower to the wall-
walk was fun to build!
By October 11 the windows for the
great gatehouse and chapel have
arrived from Hungary, and
building resumes!
Construction of the SE and
SW towers is close to
completion...

...with the NE tower needing
a roof, and the NW tower
a bit more work.
Soon I'll be adding battle-
ments to the outer curtain.
Finally.
:-)

 

Build Your Own
The plan and elevations for the 2018 model are quite incomplete,
and therefore will likely not be posted. Sorry.
1991 Lego Plan


Other Harlech Castle pages:
http://www.castlewales.com/harlech.html
http://www.travelbritain.com/wales/castles/tour/harlech.html
http://www.alumni.caltech.edu/~leif/harlech.html

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