If you want to see some of the best medieval castles in the United Kingdom, visit Wales, a very small country in the western part of the United Kingdom. There is a concentration of castles in northern and southern Wales. In addition, there are Roman ruins and lovely medieval abbeys and churches.
Wales receives far fewer tourists than England and Scotland, and yet has some of the most beautiful natural scenery and greatest historical treasures in the UK.
Northern Wales has a dense collection of castles, since it was the frontier of the English kingdom in medieval times. King Edward I established a number of castles here in the 1200’s to defend the newly conquered Welsh territory at the conclusion of the second war of Welsh independence.
Even today, Wales feels more remote and “wild” than England. I recall driving at night through the middle of the country on my way to Hereford and not seeing lights from cars or villages for many miles.
The best way to get around this small country is by car. Be forwarned that the roads are narrower than England and many are pretty much just one-lane winding country roads.
Conwy Castle. With a great setting at the mouth of the Conwy River, Conwy is one of the UK’s most classic castles and it is quite intact, with a number of towers and rooms to explore. Conwy castle and the town walls were begun in 1283 and completed in 1287.
The great hall is unique in that it is bent to conform to the natural land formation. The walls around the town are intact and add to the charm of this small town. “The smallest house in Britain” is also located in Conwy. Unfortunately I didn’t know about it until after I had left!
Beaumaris Castle. Just 23 miles from Conwy is Beaumaris Castle located on the Isle of Anglesey. The castle is unique for a couple reasons – it was never finished and it is considered one of the most outstanding examples of medieval castle architecture. The moat at the entrance is picture perfect.
The construction of the castle began in 1295. There are many dark narrow corridors to explore, and a chapel.
For students of medieval castle architecture this castle is a gem, since the fortifications (particularly the entrance) showcase the defensive strategy of medieval warfare.