Caernarfon, the fort on the Arfon, is small town in north Wales with a population of around 9,500. The former county town of Caernarfonshire it is now located within the modern county of Gwynedd. It is a coastal town featuring a natural sheltered harbour which overlooks the Menai Strait separating the mainland from Anglesey, and stands at junction of a number of important routed into the mountain range of Snowdonia to the south.
It was here that the Romans built their fort of Segontium, the most westerly legionary fort of the Roman Empire, which was was occupied from AD 78 for around 300 years until AD 383. The Norman Earl Hugh the Fat of Avranches, built a motte and bailey castle here in around the year 1086, but little remains of his construction and the former castle bailey became the site of the Castle Green (now the Castle Square) the location of the town's weekly market in which now stands a statue of David Lloyd George.
Caernarfon is most renowned for its castle; not the orginal castle of Hugh the Fat, but the later thirteenth century construction of Edward I where the castle walls, with their varying bands of coloured stone, were modelled on the walls of Constantinople. One of Europe's great medieval fortresses it was described by the Welshman Thomas Pennant in 1772 as the "most magnificent badge of our subjection" and was the scene of the 1969 investiture of Charles as Prince of Wales.
It was the construction of Edward I's castle that gave birth to the town as Edward I granted a charter to the town whose walls enclosed a population of primarily English traders and artisans, as the native Welsh were not at the time permitted to live within the town. In the centuries since however the Welsh language has re-conquered the town and today over 80% of the population speak Welsh as their first language.
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