A sense of history and pre-history pervades Caernarfon. When Edward the First arrived here in 1284, he himself was obsessed by Segontium, the fort occupied by the Romans until 383 A.D., as well as by the fact that his Norman predecessor, Earl Hugh, had built a motte and bailey in Caernarfon in 1086 A.D. This was probably on the site of the present castle where Llywelyn Fawr convened his court in the thirteenth century.
An analysis of the walled town suggests that it is semi-circular in plan, whose diameter is three hundred metres like Avebury and therefore prehistoric.
Edward I, in the words of Professor Dewi Prys Thomas who was consultant architect for the County Buildings within the town walls, pompously, "assumed the purple" of the Emperor Constantine. This is probably true because he linked Segontium to Earl Hugh's motte by a base line which he used to set out his castle and town, thus linking the lineage of the three dynasties of the Romans, Welsh and Normans. Before arriving in Caernarfon, Edward had already planned and built many walled towns in France. It is probable that Caernarfon was modelled on Montpazier and divided into sixty-four building plots or burgages, each measuring 80 feet by 60 feet. The land occupied by the Market Hall in Palace Street is a good example.
In Caernarfon it is difficult to ignore history.
Source: Caernarfon 2000 ~ Features in a Royal Town
Am fwy o wybodaeth am hanes Caernarfon ewch i’r wefan www.caernarvontraders.com. Mae yno wybodaeth eang a ffeithiol am hanes Caernarfon ac hefyd mae adran “Caernarfon Ddoe / Caernarfon’s Yesterdays” gyda erthyglau diddorol gan hanesydd cybnabyddedig Caernarfon, Mr T. Meirion Hughes. Os oes ganddoch gwestiynnau hanesyddiol am Gaernarfon, mae Mr Hughes yn barod i baratoi atebion ar y wefan yma.
Four months after the birth of the First Prince of Wales at Caernarfon - A.D.1284 - Edward I granted to the town a charter, conferring upon the inhabitants and burgesses various rights and privileges. The following is a translation of the text of the original charter:
Edward, by the Grace of God, King of England, Lord of Ireland and Duke of Aquitaine: To the Archbishops, Bishops, Abbots, Priors, Earls, Barons, Justices, Sheriffs, Provosts, Ministers and all our bailiffs and faithful servants, Greeting.
Know ye, that we do will and grant, for us and our heirs and successors, that our town of Carnarvon from henceforth shall be a free Borough and that our men of the same town shall be free Burgesses.
And that the Constable of our Castle of Carnarvon for the time being, shall be the Mayor of that Borough, sworn as well to us as to the said Burgesses, who having first taken the oath to preserve our Rights, shall swear to the same Burgesses upon the Holy Gospel of God, that he will preserve to the same Burgesses the
Liberties by us granted, and faithfully perform those things which to the office of Mayor do belong in the same Borough.
We grant also that the said Burgesses do every year, at the feast of Saint Michael, elect from among themselves, two fit and sufficient Bailiffs, and present the same to the said Constable, as their Mayor, who, in the presence of the said Mayor and Burgesses, shall swear faithfully to perform their office of Bailiffs.
And further, we also will and grant, that the aforesaid Burgesses shall have their free prison, in the aforesaid Borough, for all offences within the same, except in cases of Life and Limbs, in which cases all as well Burgesses as others, shall be imprisoned in our castle there. Nevertheless, if any of the said Burgesses be suspected, accused or indicted of any offence, in such cases we will, that on that occasion, they shall not be imprisoned, as long as they can find good and sufficient Bail, to stand before our Chief Justice, or others our Justices there to appointed.
Moreover, we grant to the said Burgesses that all Lands to the said Borough now assigned, be free from the Warren and Forest Laws; and that Jews shall not at any time dwell in the said Borough.
We will also, and do grant for us and our Heirs, that the same Burgesses shall have all other Liberties and free Customs above expressed, favourably and peaceably, without hindrance or impeachment of us or our Heirs, or of our Justices, Sheriffs, and other Bailiffs or Ministers whatsoever, as aforesaid. These being witnesses:- the Venerable Father Robert, Bishop of Bath and Wells,
our Chancellor; Richard de Burgh, Earl of Ulster; Thomas de Caire; Richard de Brus; Reginald de Grave; Nicholas de Segrave; Peter de Chaumpuent; John de Mantalto; and others. Given under our hand, at Flint, the eighth day of September in the twelfth year of our Reign. (1284)
This charter was often confirmed by subsequent sovereigns. Firstly, by Edward of Caernarvon, while yet Prince of Wales on May 25, 1306, on which occasion he styled himself "Edward, son of the illustrious king, Prince of Wales, Earl of Chester" &c. It was also confirmed by Edward III at Waltham Holy Cross in 1331; Richard II at Westminster in 1379; Henry V, while Prince of Wales at Kensington in 1400; Henry VI at Westminster in 1425; Edward IV at Westminster in 1468; Edward VI at Westminster in 1547 and Elizabeth at Westminster in 1559.
These charters of confirmation merely repeated the words of the original Edwardian deed.
Source: Caernarfon 2000 ~ Features in a Royal Town
Disclaimer -The exclusions within the Edward 1 document are no longer relevant (this is purely a historical document)