1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Harlech
HARLECH (perhaps for Hardd lech, fair slate, or Harleigh, an Anglicized variant), a town of Merionethshire, Wales, 38 m. from Aberystwyth, and 29 from Carnarvon on the Cambrian railway. Pop. 900. Ruins of a fortress crown the rock of Harlech, about half a mile from the sea. Discovery of Roman coins makes it probable that it was once occupied by the Romans. In the 3rd century Bronwen (white bosom), daughter of Bran Fendigaid (the blessed), is said to have stayed here, perhaps by force; and there was here a tower, called Twr Bronwen, and replaced about A.D. 550 by the building of Maelgwyn Gwynedd, prince of North Wales. In the early 10th century, Harlech castle was, apparently, repaired by Colwyn, lord of Ardudwy, founder of one of the fifteen North Wales tribes, and thence called Caer Colwyn. The present structure dates, like many others in the principality, from Edward I., perhaps even from the plans of the architect of Carnarvon and Conway castles, but with the retention of old portions. It is thought to have been square, each side measuring some 210 ft., with towers and turrets. Glendower held it for four years. Here, in 1460, Margaret, wife of Henry VI., defeated at Northampton, took refuge. Dafydd ap Ieuan ap Einion held it for the Lancastrians, until famine, rather than Edward IV., made him surrender. From this time is said to date the air “March of the men of Harlech” (Rhyfelgerdd gwyr Harlech). The castle was alternately Roundhead and Cavalier in the civil war. Edward I. made Harlech a free borough, and it was formerly the county town. It is in the parish of Llandanwg (pop. in 1901, 931). Though interesting from an antiquarian point of view, the district around, especially Dyffryn Ardudwy (the valley), is dreary and desolate, e.g. Drws (the door of) Ardudwy, Rhinog fawr and Rhinog fach (cliffs); an exception is the verdant Cwm bychan (little combe or hollow). The Meini gwyr Ardudwy (stones of the men of Ardudwy) possibly mark the site of a fight.