Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Edward's Jewel - 7 May 2007

Maintaining the loomLeaving South Wales, we set off for the north. On the way, but curiously seemingly in the middle of nowhere, was the National Woollen Museum. This provided an interesting look into the work methods and conditions of the past. Fascinating fact for this visit was the wool gatherers: women who followed the drovers, collecting the scraps of wool from the bushes and hedgerows as the herds made their way across country. Tufts of wool caught on barbed-wire fences are such a common part of our childhood that it is sobering to realise how tough times past were; in that these scraps were precious enough to be gathered, spun and woven to produce saleable goods to supplement the meagre living of these women.

Harlech CastleHowever, the focus of the day was the two castles at Harlech and Caernafon, both World Heritage Sites. Harlech Castle is little more than a shell, but has a great walk around the walls from where the views are magnificent. When built, the sea came right up to the base of the rock the castle is built on, allowing the castle to be re-provisioned from the sea: a feature of the next three castles as well.

The Bank Holiday traffic meant that we were later than planned arriving at Caernarfon. We could have spent much longer there, but in the 1.5 hours we had left before closing we raced around the extensive walkways and corridors and up and down most of the towers. Caernarfon Castle is amazing, and it is not surprising that it has World Heritage status.

Caenarfon CastleCaenarfon Castle

Much more a statement of Kingship than military power, it has retained its ceremonial significance by hosting the investitures of the last two Princes of Wales

Caenarfon CastleCaenarfon Castle

Bangor PierAfter checking into our hotel, we had a look around Bangor. The best feature of the town is the pier, extending half a kilometre out into the Menai Strait.

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