The TownTour Tour starts at Castle Square - in the centre of the town and is about 1.5 miles (almost 2.5KM) in distance.
Castle Square Caernarfon Castle was built on the site of an eleventh-century Norman motte-and-bailey fortification. With the erection of the sturdier castle in it's place, the bailey of the fortification was transformed into the Castle Green (now Castle Square). In 1284 the Green became the site of the weekly market. It was a popular place for cock-fighting and bull-baiting, indeed so great was the popularity of such 'sports', that any butcher caught slaughtering a bull that had not been baited would be liable to a fine. Most of the buildings surrounding the square today date back to the early 19th century, the time that the slate industry began to boom and Caernarfon became a major port
Take the road leading to the right in front of the Town Walls into: Greengate Street
Tan-y-bont arch, at the bottom of Greengate Street, contains parts of the original arch which led from the Old Town to a barbican (a detached tower) crossing the now culvert river Cadnant. In the base of the right hand tower of the arch there is a small window and door leading into a very basic cell which served until 1835 as a jail for the detention of drunks, petty criminals and stray animals.
Go under the arch and up the steps to the right into: Eastgate Street
To your right is Porth Mawr, which was one of the main entrances to the old town. In Medieval times there was a curfew on the town's inhabitants and those that were not inside the town walls before 8.00pm would be locked out as the drawbridge would close in Porth Mawr. Above the gateway was the Exchequer to the Chancery of North Wales, the Medieval tax office, which in 1763 was taken over as the Town Hall. It remained in use as a cinema/theatre until the 1950s. Alterations over the years have meant that much of the original gate has been demolished. What we see today dates mainly from the Victorian era.
Pass under Porth Mawr and turn left into: Hole in the Wall Street
Following the street along you come to the well-preserved Bell Tower forming part of the town wall. On a closer inspection of the tower, 'puttock' holes can be seen which provided support for temporary walkways, which could have been removed to isolate parts of the walls should they be taken by invaders. A little further along the street you come to a gate in the wall, known as Green Gate. Looking along the lower part of the wall you can see the line of the original ground level. As you emerge out of Hole in the Wall Street you come to the only gap in the town walls, which was demolished in 1770 to make way for the road. The full width of the walls can be appreciated at this point.
Bear right into: Palace Street Palace Street at one time contained 14 inns and taverns. Many of the buildings in the street date back to the 17th and 18th centuries, however perhaps one of the most interesting ones is the more recent Market Hall. Built in 1832 it replaced an Elizabethan Town House or 'Plas', after which the street was named. Outside the main entrance you can see a cast iron beam and hook which formed a hoist which was used for unloading goods into the extensive basement used by the Customs and Excise as a bonded warehouse.
Go straight ahead at the crossroads into: Northgate Street
In the town's heyday as a port, Northgate Street was at the heart of the red-light district. It's Welsh name, 'Stryd Pedwar a Chwech', literally translates to 'Four and Six Street', which in old shillings and pence is what sailors had to pay for a room, a bottle of gin and a woman for the night. The street contains the Black Boy Inn which, it is claimed, dates back to 1522. One theory regarding its name is that it is after a black buoy that used to be found in the harbour.
Through the archway and turn left along Bank Quay, which follows the original line of the river Cadnant. Take the first left back through the Town Walls and turn immediately to your right to: St Marys Church
The church was founded as a garrison church in 1307 and was incorporated into the Town Walls by Henry of Ellerton, one of the master masons of the castle. Much of the current building dates back to an extensive renovation in the early 19th century. However, original features remain including the arcades over the nave and the rare Jesse Window in the southern wall.
From St Mary's Church, go through the gate and turn left following the walls round to the: Promenade. As you do so you will pass Victoria Dock which was once a very important trading centre.
Following the Town Walls you will notice the Jesse Window of St Mary's. Further along at the base, you can see the tops of the arches which were built as supports for the wall.
Continue along the promenade until you arrive at: Porth yr Aur
Pass through the arches of Porth yr Aur (Golden Gate) which houses the Royal Welsh Yacht Club. In 1933 a Caernarfon member, Group Captain Lionel Brabazon-Rees, slipped quietly away from here in his 34-foot ketch "May". Eventually he arrived in Miami, Florida becoming the first man to sail the Atlantic single handed.
Continue along the promenade past the Anglesey Arms Hotel and turn left into: Castle Ditch
Just round the corner you will find the imposing classical building of the County Hall. A County Hall has been in this vicinity since the 13th century, however the present building with it's fluted ionic columns dates from the 1860s and is currently used, as you might expect from the statur of Justice on the roof, as the County Court.
Turn left into: Shirehall Street
On your left is the former jail, now part of the wider complex of Gwynedd Council buildings. The modern buildings surrounding it have been designed to complement their historical setting using traditional materials and echoing features of the old walled town such as stone arches and slate roofs.
Continue to the junction and turn right into: High Street
You are now entering the traditional commercial centre of the town. Looking up the street you can appreciate the impact of the iron grid pattern of the old town as laid out by Edward I. It was divided into
56 equal blocks of 80 x 60 feet, called burgages, each one rented to an individual burgess who paid an annual rent of one shilling. The distance between each street is 160 feet, i.e. 2 burgages.
Continue along High Street under Porth Mawr to: Turf Square
This was the site of the town pillory and stocks which were instituted in the 13th century with the proviso that the victim's body was to suffer no harm. This form of punishment remained in use until 1837.
Turning to the right along Bridge Street will bring you back to your starting point.
There are four monuments on Caestle square: The Cenotaph and Llewelyn Turner plaque are situated to the left as you enter the "Maes" The statues are of Sir Huw Owen and British Prime Minister Lloyd George.
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