Carnarvon - Gazetteers
The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland - 1868
In the latter part of the 7th century Cadwallon, a brave Welsh prince, fixed his seat at Segontium, which thenceforth continued for two centuries to be the residence of the native princes, till Aberffraw, in Anglesey, succeeded to that distinction. Hugh Lupus is said to have erected a fortress here soon after the Conquest, but the real foundation of the importance of Carnarvon was the erection of a magnificent castle by Edward I. immediately after his conquest of the principality. The work was commenced in 1283, and occupied about 12 years. The materials for this stately pile were partly taken from the ancient Segontium; limestone was obtained from Anglesey, and breccia from the neighbourhood of Bangor.
In 1284 the birth of Edward II., the first Prince of Wales, took place at Carnarvon, though not, as the pretty and well-known tradition relates, in the Eagle Tower of the castle, which was not then in existence. The first governor of the new fortress was John de Havering. An insurrection broke out in 1294, in which the Welsh, irritated by the new taxation, and led by Madoc, captured the town and castle of Carnarvon, burnt the former, and put to death the English inhabitants. The castle was closely invested by Owain Glyndwr in 1402, but was successfully defended for Henry IV. by an English and two Welsh captains left in charge of it.
During the civil war of the 17th century the castle, at first garrisoned for the king, was several times besieged and taken by each party; at length it was taken and held by the parliamentary forces under General Mytton in 1646. The royalists, under Sir John Owen, made an attempt in 1648 to recover possession of it, but without success. The town, which stands on a small peninsula running out into the Menai Strait, is defended by strong walls, with numerous circular towers. There were formerly but two entrances, at the E. and W. sides of the town; but several others now communicate with the new town grown up outside the walls. The castle stands on the S. side of the town. The streets, though narrow, are regularly planned, intersecting each other at right angles. The town is well paved and lighted with gas, and contains many well-built houses.
For the accommodation of the tourists and visitors who resort to Carnarvon as a watering-place, there are good hotels, reading-rooms, and lodging houses. There is a pleasant promenade on a terrace extending northward from the castle along the shore of the strait. The town contains a guildhall, county hall, county-prison, market-house, custom-house, gas and water-works. The principal business of Carnarvon is the trade connected with the port. The number of vessels belonging to it is about 200, and these are chiefly employed in the coasting trade. Pwllheli, Barmouth, Port Madoc, and Porthdynllaen are subordinate ports. The harbour has been improved by the construction of a good landing-pier. The exports are slates and copper-ore, the former brought from the quarries of Llanllyfni, which are connected with the town by a railroad. Timber, coal, &c., are imported. Many hands are employed in the fisheries, and some in shipbuilding. A convenient harbour-office was built in 1840. There is a lighthouse on the breakwater at Llanddwyn Point. A brass and iron foundry, of recent establishment, gives employment to some of the people. There is regular communication with Anglesey by steam-ferry. No important manufactures are carried on in the town.
Carnarvon was constituted a free borough by a charter of Edward I. in 1284, and was the first town in Wales to receive that privilege. The government of the borough, which is divided under the Municipal Act into two wards, is vested in a mayor, 6 aldermen, and 18 councillors; and the style of the corporation is, the "mayor, bailiffs, and burgesses of the town and borough of Carnarvon-" The elective franchise was conferred on the town by Henry VIII., since which time it has returned one member to the imperial parliament. Conway, Criccieth, Nevin, Pwllheli, and Bangor are contributory boroughs to Carnarvon. The revenue of the corporation is about £300 per annum. The Earl of Carnarvon is constable of the castle. Carnarvon is the seat of a Poor-law Union, the head of a County Court district, the headquarters of the county militia, and a polling-place and place of election for the county. The assizes and quarter sessions are held here.
The living is united to the vicarage of Llanbeblig, in the diocese of Bangor. The parish church of Llanbeblig stands at a short distance from the town. The church of St. Mary is the old garrison chapel. There is also a new English church called Christ Church, which stands near the railway station. There are chapels belonging to the Baptists, Independents, and Calvinistic and Wesleyan Methodists, in most of which the service is performed in the Welsh language. Besides the British, infant, and ragged schools, there are a model National school, established about 1843, and a training school for Welsh schoolmasters. The town possesses a Museum of Natural History and Antiquities, and a mechanics' institute and reading rooms. The charitable endowments for the poor produce about £70 per annum. Portions of the old wall of the Roman city still exist, and numerous interesting relics have been found on its site. Traces also of several forts, or outposts to Segontium, are seen in the neighbourhood. One of these forts, on the banks of the Seiont, is in nearly perfect preservation. A chapel is said to have been founded here by Helena, mother of the Emperor Constantine, and her name is still attached to a well. Segontium covered an area of above six acres, and was oblong in form. The antiquities discovered here are deposited in the Carnarvon Museum.
The remains of the noble castle are extensive, and cover a quadrangular space of nearly three acres. The outer walls, from 8 to 10 feet in thickness, are nearly perfect, and have along them 13 towers, or circular bastions, with turrets of five, six, or eight sides. One of the loftiest towers is that called the Eagle Tower. It is a pentagon, surmounted by turrets at three of its angles, and takes its name from the finely sculptured figure of an eagle which adorns it. This tower is entered by the Water Gate. The other and chief entrances to the castle are by a gateway on the N. side, under a tower which has on its front a statue of Edward I., and by Queen Eleanor's Gate, which looks northward, and was defended by four portcullises. The enclosure originally formed two courts. The walls were repaired not many years ago, but the interior buildings are mostly in a state of decay. The ancient pile, however, still forms a grand feature of the scene--Saturday is the market day. Annual fairs are held on the 15th April, the 3rd June, the 10th July, the 12th August, the 9th September, the 9th October, and the 14th November. A regatta takes place generally in August."[Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868)
Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2003]
A Topographical Dictionary of Wales Samuel Lewis, 1833CARNARVON (CAERNARVON), a sea-port, borough, and market-town, having separate jurisdiction, in the parish of LLANBEBLIG, locally in the hundred of Isgorvai, county of CARNARNVON, NORTH WALES, 250 miles (N.W. by W.) from London. The population is returned with the parish.
This place, which is the county town of Carnarvonshire, and may be regarded as the metropolis of North Wales, owes its origin to the Roman station Segontium, so named from its situation on the river Seiont, which, rising in the lake of Llyn Peris, falls into the Menai straits near the spot. It was the most important post occupied by the Romans within the limits of North Wales, and communicated with the station Deva, now Chester, by the ancient Watling-street, and with South Wales by the road since called the Via Occidentalis. This station is by Nennius, in his catalogue of British cities, called Caer Cystenin, or " the castle of Constantine;" and the writer of the life of Grufydd ab Cynan states that Hugh Lupus, Earl of Chester, built a castel at Hen Gaer Cystenni, which the Latin translator has rendered " in antiqua urbe Constantini Imperatoris." From the situation of Segontium, opposite to Mona, or Anglesey, it obtained the British name of Caer yn Arvon, signifying the strong hold in the country opposite to the isle of Mona ; and this appellation, with a very trifling alteration, was transferred to the present town, which subsequently rose from the ruins, and was partly built with the materials, of the ancient station. After the departure of the Romans from Britain, the city of Segontium was frequently the residence of the British princes of North Wales, who assumed and exercised supreme authority over the petty states into which the Roman province of Britannia Secunda was now divided. Cadwallon, son of Cadvan, who distinguished himself by his valour in opposing the inroads of the Saxons into North Wales, and who was killed while fighting against them in Northumbria, in the year 676, was the first of these princes that held his court in this place, which was probably selected, on account of the strength of its fortifications and the security of its situation, as a residence for their families, while they themselves were employed in the prosecution of the wars in which they were almost incessantly engaged, not only with the Saxons, but also with the Irish and Picts, and at a later period with the Danes, who were continually making predatory incursions into their territories. Carnarvon continued to be the residence of the native princes till about the year 873, when Roderic the Great transferred, or rather restored, the seat of government to Aberfraw, on the southern shores of the Isle of Mona, or Anglesey, where it had been originally established, in the fourth century, by Caswallon Law-hir, the first native sovereign, and where it afterwards remained for several centuries.
Soon after the Norman conquest of England, Hugh Lupus, Earl of Chester, having nearly subdued the whole of North Wales, in which he committed the most frightful ravages, erected several fortresses in different parts of the principality, in order to secure his conquests, and among them the castle at this place, which was probably the first building of any importance near the site, and was perhaps the origin of the present town, which, though it is supposed to have taken its name from Edward I., to whom its foundation has been attributed, is mentioned under that name at a much earlier period. Owain Gwynedd, Prince of North Wales, having banished his brother Cadwaladr, the latter engaged in his service several Irish chieftains and a large body of troops, and landed at Abermenai, a few miles to the south-west of Carnarvon, where he was opposed by Owain, with a powerful army. But the two brothers having amicably adjusted their differences, without having further recourse to arms, the Irish were so incensed, that they detained Cadwaladr a prisoner, until they received their stipulated remuneration. That prince, having given them two thousand head of cattle, was set at liberty; and Owain, being apprised of this, suddenly attacked the Irish, and, having slain great numbers of them, took from them not only the cattle given by Cadwaladr, but other spoils and prisoners captured by them in the adjacent country.
Giraldus Cambrensis, who accompanied Baldwin, Archbishop of Canterbury, on his route through Wales, to preach the crusades, in 1188, mentions this place in his Itinerary; and a charter granted by Llewelyn ab Iorwerth to the priory of Penmon is dated from Carnarvon, in the year 1221.
Edward I., immediately after his subjugation of the principality, struck with the importance of a situation so well calculated by nature for security and strength, erected a magnificent castle in this place, to keep the native chieftains in subjection, and to render himself master of his newly acquired dominions, and more especially of the districts in the vicinity of Snowdon, which had been the safe retreat of numbers who set his power at defiance, and still refused to submit to his authority. In this castle he generally resided, while engaged in completing the conquest which he had achieved, and occasionally held his court; and, if not the original founder of the present town, he certainly laid the basis of its subsequent importance and prosperity. This splendid fortress, which for its extent and architectural beauty was the admiration of the country, and of which the remains strikingly display its original grandeur, and magnificence, occupies the summit of a compact schistose rock, boldly projecting into the bay of Carnarvon, and bounded on one side by the Menai, on another by the aestuary of the Seiont, and on the third, and partly on the fourth, by a creek, or inlet, from the strait. It was commenced in the year 1282; and is said to have been completed in the short space of one year, Edward having compelled the native chieftains not only to procure artisans and labourers, but also to contribute large sums of money towards the expense of its erection, to which also he appropriated the revenues of the archiepiscopal see of York, which had been kept vacant for that purpose. The walls of the ancient Segontium furnished a portion of the materials, lime-stone was brought from Anglesey, and breccia, or grit-stone, from the vicinity of Vaenol, near Bangor, for the conveyance of which heavy substances the straits of the Menai afforded every facility. Probably only so much of the castle was completed, within that short period of time, as was necessary for the immediate accommodation of a garrison, as, from a document formerly in the exchequer of Carnarvon, it would appear that the whole of this stately pile was not completed in less than twelve years. The first governor was John de Havering, under whom, with a chaplain, surgeon, and smith, was a garrison of forty armed men, of whom fifteen were cross-bowmen, and the remainder performed the duty of watch and ward. This establishment, according to Sir John Doddridge's historical account of North Wales, published about the commencement of the seventeenth century, was afterwards differently constituted, and consisted of a constable of the castle, a captain of the town (whose office was occasionally held with that of constable), twenty-four soldiers, for the safe custody both of the castle and the town, and a porter of the town gates.
Notwithstanding all the vigilance and precaution of Edward, that monarch experienced much difficulty in repressing the free spirit of his new subjects, and in 1283, the Welsh chieftains firmly refused either to yield obedience to him as sovereign, unless he would consent to reside in Wales, or to any other person who was not a native of their country. The English monarch, with a view to reconcile them to his government, immediately despatched a messenger to his consort Eleanor, at that time near her confinement, requiring her presence at Carnarvon, for which place she immediately set out, though in the depth of winter, and, performing the journey on horseback, through the almost impassable roads of the country, arrived at the castle, where she was afterwards delivered of a son, on the 25th of April, who; from the premature death of his elder brother, succeeded to the throne by the title of Edward II., and from the place of his birth was styled Edward of Carnarvon. This prince, immediately after his birth, was presented by his father to the Welsh chieftains, as their future sovereign; and in the year following, Edward, who was then at Bristol, issued from that place a writ tending to conciliate his Welsh subjects, and declaring the town of Carnarvon, among other places in the principality, to be for ever free from the payment of the tax called talliage. With a view to allure the Welsh from their retreats in the mountains, and to encourage trade, that monarch granted the inhabitants a charter of incorporation, and endowed them with many privileges. In 1289, Adam de Wetenhall was constable of the castle, which office Edward probably conferred afterwards upon his distinguished favourite, Sir Roger de Pulesdon, whom, in 1284, he appointed sheriff and "keeper" of Anglesey, and who resided in a mansion at Carnarvon, called after his name Plas Pulesdon. Sir Roger having been commanded, in 1294, to levy a subsidy in certain parts of North Wales, towards defraying the expenses of the war with France, the inhabitants had recourse to arms, to resist this novel imposition, and put that officer to death. The insurgents, headed by Madoc, an illegitimate son of Prince Llewelyn, afterwards made a sudden attack upon Carnarvon, at that time crowded with Englishmen, who had assembled at the great fair held there; and having surprised the castle and the town, they massacred the unarmed and defenceless English, and, plundering the town, set it on fire; nor were they subdued until the king himself led an army into the Welsh territory. The young prince Edward, in his 16th year, received the homage of his Welsh subjects at Chester, being invested, as symbols of his authority, with a chaplet of gold round his head, and a silver sceptre in his hand. After the accession of this prince to the throne of England, Carnarvon was for a short time the retreat of Piers Gaveston, the imperious favourite of that monarch, who landed there on his return from Ireland, whither he had been banished. In 1402, the town was assaulted by the troops of Owain Glyndwr, but was valiantly and successfully defended for Henry IV., by Ievan ab Meredydd, and Meredydd ab Hwlkin Llwyd of Glynllivon, to whom, under the command of an English captain, the custody of the castle had been entrusted. So closely was the place besieged on this occasion, that it was found necessary to convey the corpse of Ievan, who died during the siege, by sea, round the peninsular part of the county, for interment at Penmorva.
During the parliamentary war, the castle and town, which were garrisoned for the king, were besieged and taken, in 1644, by Captain Swanley, who captured four hundred prisoners, and obtained : a large quantity of arms, ammunition, and plunder. The royalists, however, recovered possession of the place, and Lord Byron was appointed governor; but in 1646 it was again besieged by the parliamentary forces, under Major-Gen. Mytton, to whom the garrison surrendered it on honourable terms, In 1648, Sir John Owen, with a party of royalists, besieged in this town General Mytton and Colonel Mason, who held it for the parliament ; but Sir John withdrawing a part of his forces, to intercept Colonels Carter and Twisselton, who had been sent by the parliament to its relief, and were advancing towards Carnarvon, was defeated and taken prisoner near Aber, on the road to Aberconway; the siege was consequently raised, and soon after the whole of North Wales submitted to the parliament.
The town is delightfully situated at the mouth of the river Seiont, which here falls into the Menai strait, and within four miles of Aber Menai, where that strait unites with the sea in St. George's channel : it is surrounded with lofty and massive walls continued from the castle, which are defended by circular bastions at convenient intervals. On the embattled parapets was formerly a fine walk, carried round the whole circuit of the walls, in which were originally only two gates, both defended by two massive towers ; the one on the east, looking towards the mountains, and communicating with the new town by means. of a bridge thrown over the moat by which the walls are surrounded, and the other on the west, towards the Menai strait, communicating with the Anglesey ferry. Other entrances have been subsequently opened from the suburbs and the extensive ranges of new buildings which are situated without the walls. The plan of the town is regular : the streets, though narrow, intersect each other at right angles, and are well paved and lighted under the provisions of a local act of parliament; a gasometer is now nearly completed, for the purpose of lighting them and the public buildings, &c., with gas : the houses are in general neat and well built, and the inhabitants are supplied with water conveyed by pipes from the mountains. The salubrity of the air, the convenience of its situation for sea-bathing, and the beautiful scenery in the neighbourhood, have made this town the permanent residence of numerous respectable families, and the frequent resort of visitors, for whose accommodation a spacious and elegant hotel has been built, by the Marquis of Anglesey, within the walls, and close upon the shore of the Menai: attached to this establishment, which is replete with every accommodation, is a bath, supplied with sea water by an engine, and furnished with every requisite appendage. Several respectable lodging-houses have also been built for the reception of the increasing number of visitors, whom the advantages of its situation, and the many interesting and pleasing excursions which the vicinity affords, attract to this place during the summer season. The theatre, a small, but neat and well-arranged, building, is opened during the summer months ; a billiard-room has been fitted up in one of the towers on the walls, and on the wall extending from the Eagle tower of the castle, along the shore of the Menai, is a broad terrace, forming a pleasant promenade, commanding, at high water, a fine view of the Isle of Anglesey and St. George's channel.
The port, which is a creek to that of Beaumaris, carries on an extensive coasting trade with Liverpool, Bristol, and Dublin : the principal exports are slates, of which about thirty thousand tons are annually shipped from this place, and copper-ore ; and the principal imports are, timber from the American colonies, and coal and other commodities from the neighbouring coasts : the coal is deposited on wharfs for the supply of the town and the adjacent country. About twenty vessels are employed in the foreign trade, having an aggregate burden of one thousand eight hundred and fifty-seven tons, and employing one hundred and ten men ; and in the coasting trade, about one thousand one hundred vessels are engaged, of the aggregate burden of fifty-one thousand two hundred and twenty-six tons, navigated by three thousand five hundred men. Great quantities of fish are taken off this part of the coast, for the supply of the town and neighbourhood, which affords employment to a considerable number of the inhabitants. The harbour has been greatly improved under the provisions of two successive acts of parliament, carried into operation by trustees empowered to levy certain rates and duties on the tonnage of all vessels entering the port ; buoys have been laid down on the bar, to mark the entrance; and a breakwater has been constructed at Llanddwyn Point, seven miles to the north-west, forming a secure station for vessels : to point out these and to facilitate the entrance, two beacons have been erected on the high land at Llanddwyn. A station also has been established here for pilots commissioned by the corporation of the Trinity House, with comfortable residences provided for them by the trustees under the act for the improvement of the port, who also pay them an annual stipend for the care and management of a life-boat, which was presented to this port by Admiral Crawley. A patent slip is now being constructed in the harbour, to facilitate the repairing of vessels, and extensive and commodious quays and wharfs have been made, under the provisions of the local acts before noticed. A rail-road has been formed from the town to the slate quarries in the vale of Nantlle, extending for nine miles into the parishes of Llanllyvni and Llandwrog; and the slates and copper-ore are conveyed in waggons, and deposited in wharfs built on the banks of the river Seiont. The custom-house is a small building of no architectural pretensions, situated outside the town walls, on the terrace extending from the quay to their northern extremity. The market is on Saturday, and is well supplied with provisions of all kinds, particularly with butcher's meat, fish, and vegetables. The fairs, principally for cattle, are on March 12th, May 16th, August 12th, September 20th, and December 5th. A new market-house and shambles were built in 1831, at the expense of the corporation, and the old shambles have been converted into a corn market.
This town, the first in the principality that received a royal charter, was, as before observed, constituted a free borough by Edward I., almost immediately after his conquest of Wales : the burgesses were allowed to have a prison for misdemeanants, independently of the sheriff of the county, and were permitted to form a mercantile guild, and invested with divers privileges. If any villein, or bondman, lived within the precincts of the town for a year and a day, either possessing lands or paying scot and lot, he could not be reclaimed by his lord, but became enfranchised, and entitled to all the immunities of the borough : the burgesses were exempted, in every part of the kingdom, from the payment of talliage, lastage, passage, murage, pontage, and every other local imposition and tax: Jews were not permitted to reside in the borough; nor could the burgesses be convicted of any crime committed between the rivers Conway and Dovey, which district included nearly the whole of the counties of Carnarvon and Merioneth, except by a jury of their own townsmen. By the charter the government is vested in a mayor, who is always the constable of the castle (that office being at present held by the Most Noble the Marquis of Anglesey), two bailiffs, a recorder, and steward, and an indefinite number of burgesses, assisted by a town-clerk, two stewards, two serjeants at mace, and other officers. The constable of the castle holds his office by patent, and the bailiffs are chosen annually from among the burgesses, on the 29th of September, and, with the mayor or constable of the castle, are justices of the peace within the borough. Carnarvon, with the contributory boroughs of Aberconway, Criccieth, Nevin, and Pwllheli, to which Bangor has recently been added returns one member to parliament: the elective franchise was granted in the 37th of Henry VIII., and the right of election was formerly in the burgesses at large, but is now, by the late act for amending the representation of the people, vested in the resident burgesses only, if duly registered agreeably to the provisions of the act, and in every male person of full age occupying, either as owner, or as tenant under the same landlord, a house or other premises of the annual value of not less than ten pounds, provided he be capable of registering as the act directs : the number of voters under the ancient municipal regulations of the borough, at the time of passing the act, was four hundred and eighty; and the number of houses of the yearly value of ten pounds and upwards, situated within its limits, which comprise from two-thirds to three-fourths of the parish of Llanbeblig, and were not altered by the late boundary act, is about three hundred and eighty : the bailiffs of Carnarvon, at which place the election is always held, are the returning officers. The freedom is acquired by residence within the borough, and by gift of the burgesses. The corporation formerly held courts for the trial of all offenders not accused of capital crimes, but have discontinued to exercise that privilege for many years, and the bailiffs usually commit prisoners to the county gaol, for trial at the general quarter sessions. Courts leet and baron were formerly held, but the only court now held is one for the recovery of debts under forty shillings, at which the recorder presides, and of which the jurisdiction is co-extensive with the borough. The guild-hall is composed of two of the ancient towers upon the wall, which have been fitted up and accommodated to that purpose. The assizes and sessions for the county, and the election of a knight of the shire, are held at Carnarvon, as the county town. The county hall is an appropriate building, but not distinguished by any architectural features of importance; and the county prison, to which purpose one of the towers has been converted, and the house of correction, are not entitled to particular notice, either as regards their arrangements or structure. The chapel, dedicated to St. Mary, and situated within the walls, appears to have been originally erected for the use of the garrison only : it has been elegantly fitted up as a chapel of ease to the parish church, which is about half a mile distant. A gallery was erected in it, in 1829, with funds belonging to the National school, and the rents of the seats are appropriated to the support of that institution ; and one hundred and fifty free sittings have been added by means of a grant of £ 100 from the Incorporated Society for building and enlarging churches and chapels. There are places of worship within the parish for Baptists, Independents, and Calvinistic and Wesleyan Methodists. The National schools for boys and girls were erected in 1820, at an expense of £350, raised by subscription, and a grant of £ 100 from the parent society : in these schools two hundred boys and two hundred and twenty girls are gratuitously instructed, under a master and a mistress, partly by the produce of the pews in the gallery of the chapel, and partly by subscription. Certain lands and tenements in the parish of Llanrug were bequeathed by John Morris, for apprenticing poor children of the borough ; and the interest of several donations and charitable bequests, amounting in the aggregate to £200, is annually distributed among the poor.
The Roman Segontium occupied a quadrangular area of about seven acres, on the summit of an eminence gradually sloping on every side, and was defended with strong walls of masonry, of which, on the south side, there are extensive portions, now in an almost perfect state. There are also vestiges of walls in several places, and within the area are the remains of a building of tiles, plaistered over with a smooth and very hard cement, which appears to have been a hypocaust. A golden coin, inscribed T. DIVI. AVG. FIL. AVGVSTVS, was found within the area of the station, which is intersected by the road from Carnarvon to the parish church of Llanbeblig ; and in digging the foundations of Cevn Hendre, on part of the site, in 1827, several Roman coins and valuable relics were discovered. Among the latter was found. a very thin piece of gold, four inches long and one inch broad, inscribed with mystic characters, principally Greek, which, from their form, appear to be of the second century, and by the import of the names and epithets, of which some are Hebrew, shew it to be a Basilidian talisman. The Basilidian heresy, according to Irenaeus, prevailed in Gaul immediately after the Apostolic age, and the discovery of this curious and valuable relic, which is now in the possession of the Rev. T. Trevor, of Cevn Hendre, by whom it was found, proves how rapidly those doctrines spread through the remotest provinces of the Roman empire. Between Segontium and the present town of Carnarvon, on the steep bank of the river Seiont, was an ancient Roman fortress, one of the out-posts belonging to that station, the walls of which, from eleven to twelve feet in height, and six feet in thickness, enclosed a quadrangular area, seventy-four yards in length and sixty-four in breadth : at one of the angles was a heap of stones, probably the ruins of a tower, or circular bastion, the foundation of which was discovered by digging, in which were found the horns of deer, and skeletons of smaller animals. On removing the earth, there appeared to have been a similar bastion at each of the angles of the fort, which seems to have been intended to protect the landing from this part of the river at high water. On the opposite side of the Seiont are vestiges of similar fortifications, other out-posts connected with the principal station, of which the strong post called Dinas Dinlle, on the summit of a circular artificial mount on the shore of the Menai strait, and on the verge of an extensive marsh to the south-west of the present town, was the principal. On very slender and conflicting historical testimony, resting chiefly on the authority of Matthew of Westminster, and on the discovery of a stone inscribed with the letters s. v. c., which was found in a vault among the ruins of Segontium, this place is supposed to have been at one time the residence of the Emperor Constantine, whose father Constantius is stated in the Flores Historiarum to have been interred here. The remains of a chapel, founded during the continuance of the Roman empire in Britain, by Helena, mother of Constantine, are said to have been visible little more than a century ago ; and a well in the vicinity, which was formerly in repute for the efficacy of its water, still bears the name of that princess.
The remains of the once important castle of Carnarvon occupy a spacious quadrangular area on the west side of the town : the external walls are very extensive, and in many parts almost entire ; they are from eight to ten feet in thickness, and within them runs a corridor, forming a communication with every part of the castle, and opening into the numerous towers which at intervals rise from the battlements of the walls to a very considerable height : of this corridor, a portion, nearly seventy yards in length, is still entire, and is lighted by narrow apertures, through which arrows might be discharged with security against an assailing enemy. Of the towers, thirteen in number, and from the battlements of which rise slender embattled turrets, some are pentagonal, some hexagonal, and others octagonal : two are loftier than the rest, of which one, called the Eagle Tower, from the sculptured devices with which it is ornamented, and in particular from that of an eagle finely sculptured in stone by a Roman artist, and brought from the ancient Segontium, is singularly beautiful : it is pentagonal, and is surmounted by three slender octangular embattled turrets. The principal entrance is on the north side, through a handsome gateway, under a massive tower, the front of which is decorated with a statue of the founder, with his hand upon his sword, which is half drawn, or probably half returned into the scabbard : the gateway was defended by four portcullises, the grooves of which are remaining, and also the ponderous hinges on which the gates were hung. The smaller entrance, called the Queen's Gate, and through which Queen Eleanor is said to have entered the castle immediately after its erection, is on the south-east, and considerably above the level of the ground on the outside : it is defended by two portcullises, and was probably at that time to be approached only by the drawbridge over the moat ; this entrance leads into the Eagle Tower, in a small apartment in which Edward II. was born. In the area, which was anciently divided into an outer and an inner ward, the buildings are in a more dilapidated state than might be expected from the external appearance of the castle : many of them are almost indiscriminate heaps of ruins, and in several of the towers the rooms are merely skeletons of what they were originally. The state apartments appear to have been extensive and commodious, and were lighted by ranges of windows of elegant design, enriched with tracery ; and, from the numerous remains of ornamental detail of beautiful character, appear to have been as well adapted to the purposes of a magnificent palace, as the other parts of the building were to those of an impregnable fortress. The staircase of the Eagle Tower is the only one remaining entire; and from the summit an extensive prospect is obtained over the neighbouring parts of Carnarvonshire and the Isle of Anglesey. The prevailing character of the castle, especially in the state apartments, is the decorated style of English architecture and in the construction of the towers, and those parts of the building which were intended for defence, a happy combination of elegance with security, and of ornament with strength, appears to have been pre-eminently regarded throughout this stupendous and beautiful structure, which, even in its present state of ruin and decay, retains an air of majestic grandeur, and, from its commanding situation, forms a most striking object, towering proudly above the rocks which line the coast, and forming a prominent and interesting feature in the scenery of the surrounding district. Carnarvon gives the title of earl to the family of Herbert.
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