The Oakeley Arms Hotel is set in a very special part of Wales; on the edge of Snowdonia and only a mile or two from the beautiful Welsh coast.
The hills and coastline of this part of Wales are rich in history and legend, and one of our favourites, is the story of Edward's Castles......
The year is 1272. After decades of civil war and unrest, England is in turmoil. The aristocracy are battling over land and the working classes are are uneasy. A new king, Edward I, has just come to the throne and he is determined to restore peace; he plans to begin by dealing with England’s most troublesome neighbour - Wales.
Tensions between the king of England and Welsh rebels had been brewing for years, and by 1277 Edward could stand it no longer. Goaded by the Welsh Prince Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, who was slowly claiming more and more land towards the English border, Edward not only invaded Llywelyn’s territory but came up with a grand plan in a bid to control the unruly Welsh army.
He built great fortresses, designed to subdue rebels and remind them of the power of their new English rulers. The plan worked; by 1284 Wales was officially incorporated into England and Llywelyn was killed in battle.
Known as Edward’s “Iron Ring”, the most prominent castles were built at key positions along the Welsh coast. They are almost 800 years old and have survived countless battles and brutal attacks but most have aged extraordinarily well. They are fine examples of groundbreaking medieval castle architecture and of Edward I’s determination to assert his authority over the Welsh.
Edward's largest castles survive at Harlech, Criccieth, Caernarfon and Beaumaris. All of these are open to the public, and all are well worth a visit. Harlech castle is only a short drive from the Oakeley Arms Hotel.
They are all looked after by Cadw, and you can find out more at the website here