« PreviousContinue »
Very few events relative to Caernarvon or its castle have been given to posterity. In an insurrection of the Welsh, during a fair in the year 1294, the town was suddenly attacked: after the surrender it was set on fire, and all the English found within the walls were murdered in cold blood. This place, in 1404, was blockaded by Owen Glyndwr's adherents, but it was bravely defended for the king by Jevan ap Meredydd and Meredydd ap Hwlkin Llwyd, of Glyn Llivon in Evionedd. During the siege Jevan died in the castle, and his body was conveyed out privately by sea to be buried in his parish church of Llanvihangel. Owen's men, at length finding all efforts to take the castle fruitless, thought proper to raise the siege, and retire for the purpose of harassing the English in some other quarter. Caernarvon Castle was seized, in the year 1644, for the parliament by Captain Swanly, who took at the same time four hundred prisoners, and a great quantity of arms and ammunition. It must have been soon afterwards retaken; for in the following year, it is mentioned amongst the castles that were fortified for the king. Lord Byron was appointed governor, but on its being attacked in 1646 by General Mytton and General Langhorn, he surrendered it upon honourable terms. General Mytton and Colonel Mason were besieged here in 1648 by Sir John Owen with a small force consisting of only one hundred and fifty horse, and a hundred and twenty foot soldiers ; and it is by no means improbable that the bravery of this handful of men would have been crowned with success, had not notice been brought to Sir John that a considerable detachment from the parliament's army were on their march to join General Mytton. He immediately drew off his troops from the castle, and determinately marched to attack them. The two forces met on the sands between Conway and Bangor, and, after a furious encounter, his party was routed, thirty of his men were
killed, and himself and about one hundred others were taken prisoners. After this contest, the whole of North Wales became subject to the parliament. The property of Caernarvon castle is at present in the
It was formerly held by the Wynnes of Glynllivon and Gwyder, the Bulkeleys of Baron Hill, and the Mostyns of Gloddaeth.
About half a mile south of Caernarvon there are yet to be seen a few walls, the small remains of
SEGONTIUM,* The ancient Roman city mentioned in the Itinerary of Antoninus. This appears to have been the principal station which the Romans had in North Wales, all the rest being subordinate to it. It received its name from the river Seiont, which rises in the lower lake of Llanberis, passes under the walls, and discharges itself into the Menai near Caernarvon castle. The form of this city was oblong, and it appears originally to have occupied about six acres of ground. The road which leads from Caernarvon to Beddgelert now divides it into two parts.
Not far from hence was the fort which belonged to it; this was also of an oblong figure, and stood upon about an acre of ground. The walls are at present about eleven feet high, and six in thickness, and at each corner there was formerly a tower.
Along these walls there are three parallel rows of circular holes, each nearly three inches in diameter, which pass through the whole thickness : and at the ends are others of a similar kind. Much learned conjecture has been employed as to the original design of these holes. Some antiquaries have supposed them to have been used for discharging arrows through at an enemy, but their great length and narrowness render it impossible that this should ever have been the case. Others have fancied they might have been left in the walls to admit air for the purpose of hardening the liquid cement that was poured in; but this cannot have been so, since there are such at Salisbury that
* This place is called by the Welsh Caer Custeint, the fort of Constantine, and Caer Segont, the fort of the river Sciont, and from its situation opposite to Mona, it obtained the British name of Caer yn Arvon, the stronghold in the country opposite to Mona, which appellation was transferred to the present town of Caernarvon.
appear to have been closed with stones at the ends, and others have been found even below the natural surface of the ground at Manchester. Mr. Whitaker, in his history of that place, says, that he by chance met with a hole that was accidently laid open from end to end ; this, he thought, disclosed the design of all the rest, and he supposes that as the Romans carried their ramparts upwards, they took off from the pressure on the parts below, and gave a greater strength to the whole, by turning little arches in their work, and fixing the rest of the wall upon them. At Segontium, however, this cannot have been the case, for the holes are not only too small, but are at by far too great a distance from each other to have been of any material use in lightening the work. It is not however unreasonable to suppose that these were formed for no other purpose than merely to bear the horizontal poles for resting the scaffolding upon, necessary in the building of the fabric: they may have been left unfilled up in order to admit air to the interior of the work, or for some other purpose with which we are not now acquainted, and this conjecture is the more probable from their being exactly parallel, and the rows at a proper height above each other to admit the masons to work.
It was the opinion of Mr. Camden that this was the Setantiorum Portus of Ptolemy, but that place has been referred with greater propriety to the Neb of the Nese, a high promontory in the river Ribble, about eight miles west of Preston in Lancashire.
EXCURSION FROM CAERNARVON TO THE NANTTLE
Glangwna—View— Ascent to the summit of Moel Aelir, and view from
thence, Bettws— Nant Mill-Llyn Cwellyn-Castle Cidwm-Tradition respecting the giant Cidwm-Llyn y Dywurchen-- Nantlle Pools - Mountain pass— Beautiful views-Slate quarries.
ABOUT two miles from Caernarvon, to the left of the road, is
One of the most charming retreats in the principality, now the property of Mrs. King. The house is small, but surrounded with wood, and so completely sequestered as scarcely to be seen from the road. The grounds are not extensive, but they have an elegant wildness; and the walks through the woods and along the banks of the river Seiont are delightful.
From an eminence in the road, about four miles from Caernarvon, the traveller is presented in front with a view along Nant Gwyrfai, the vale of Freshwater. A range of sloping rocks forms the middle distance. The vale
appears closed at some distance by part of the side of the lofty Arran. The dark and towering rock of Mynyd Mawr is seen to rise from behind, on the right of the vale; and on
* See note at the commencement of the next Chapter.
the opposite side, this is well contrasted by the smooth verdant and hemispherical mountain.
The Frosty hill. This may be ascended without much difficulty, and the prospect from the top is good. The Rival mountains appear quite near, and beyond them the whole remaining extent of the promontory of Llyn, as far as Aberdaron. Part of Cwellyn Pool (by the road leading to Beddgelert) is seen just below; from the edge of which the immense Mynydd Mawr rears his black and rugged sides. Beyond this is one of the Nantlle Pools, and near the latter the small pool of Llyn Cwm Ffynnon. Ex. tending from hence southwards, is a long range of mountain summits and hollows, some verdant, and others totally destitute of vegetation. The distant mountains of Merionethshire close the scene in this direction. On the south-east side may be observed a dreary vale, with nearly perpendicular boundaries called Cwm Dwythwch, the hollow of the rapid burrowing river, containing a small pool, in which the finest and best flavoured of all the Caernarvonshire trout are said to be caught. Beyond this, Snowdon is seen, rearing his pointed summit into the sky. His red and precipitous cliffs and huge bulk, compared with the adjoining mountains, render him easily distinguishable from the rest. Part of the vale and lakes of Llanberis, with the castle of Dôlbadarn, are visible, in a somewhat different direction.
The descent from the mountain leads into the road at a little distance beyond the romantic little village of
Or, as it is sometimes called, for the sake of distinction, Bettws Garmon. Its church is dedicated to Saint Ger