Summary Description and Reason for Designation
The following provides a general description of the Scheduled Monument.
The monument consists of the remains of a castle, dating to the medieval period. A castle is a defended residence or stronghold, built mainly of stone, in which the principal or sole defence comprises the walls and towers bounding the site. Some form of keep may have stood within the enclosure but these were not significant in defensive terms and served mainly to provide accommodation.
Criccieth is a native castle of Llywelyn Fawr, later altered by Edward I. The inner ward is attributed to Llywelyn Fawr (Llywelyn ab Iorwerth) and the outer to Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, and Edward is credited with substantially reconstructing and heightening both the SE or Leyburn tower (part of the inner ward), and the SW or Great tower, and with converting the N tower to take a siege engine. The inner gatehouse was heightened under Edward II. The castle fell and was burnt down in 1404 during the Glyndwr rising.
The main surviving remains of the SW tower are the N wall and parts of the E wall; the S and W walls seem to have fallen over the edge. Much of the outer face appears to have fallen away from the curtain wall on the S running from this tower across to the outer gatehouse. The latter is of simple design, with a passage running through the remains of a square tower. Masonry foundations in the turf of this area may suggest the presence of other buildings here.
A postern to the S of the SE or Leyburn tower gives access from the outer into the inner ward, where there are various features, perhaps suggesting a kitchen; foundations indicate a structure against the inner side of the curtain here on the S. It has been suggested that the battlements were rebuilt by Edward I and heightened by Edward II.
The inner gatehouse consists of two towers either side of an entrance passage, that to the W contains a cistern at the inner end of the passage, fed by a natural spring and is probably that known as the Cistern tower; stairs behind led to the upper floors.
A fair amount survives of the SE or Leyburn tower; there is a platform in the near left-hand corner as one enters from the courtyard, while living rock visible on the floor suggests that the actual flooring was at a higher level. The corners have fallen away, but otherwise masonry survives to a height of 3.0 m or thereabouts.
The N or Engine tower has a shallow, stepped ramp up its SE side, presumably to provide access for the siege engine, although it is not entirely clear from the remains on the ground how this was achieved. This ramp is a clear addition to the original tower, with a very obvious straight joint following the original outer face. There are signs of a blocked postern through the outer curtain wall just by this ramp. The curtain in general survives much better at this N end than around the S. There are points of access through the curtain to a turfed area with seats, telescopes etc. from which the superb views which the site, on its isolated rock, commands can be appreciated.
The monument is of national importance for its potential to enhance our knowledge of medieval settlement and defence. It retains significant archaeological potential, with a strong probability of the presence of associated archaeological features and deposits. The structures themselves may be expected to contain archaeological information concerning chronology and building techniques.
The scheduled area comprises the remains described and areas around them within which related evidence may be expected to survive.