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Some of the most magnificent castles of Wales are reminders of a turbulent time, when English kings and Welsh princes vied for power.

In 1276–77 and 1282–83, King Edward I led two military campaigns in Wales to defeat the Welsh princes and bring Wales under English rule. To do this, between 1276 and 1295 many castles were built or repaired.

Beaumaris, Caernarfon, Conwy and Harlech were the finest castles built by King Edward I in Wales. At Caernarfon and Conwy, new towns were built within massive walls at the same time as the castles. All were begun and substantially completed between 1283 and 1330.

The result, both individually and collectively, is the finest surviving example of late thirteenth-century military architecture in Europe. Together, these four great castles and two sets of town walls were inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1986 as the Castles and Town Walls of King Edward in Gwynedd World Heritage Site.