Featured • July 07, 2023 • Author, Sharon Watkins
Anglesey is such a beautiful part of North Wales to explore, and with so much to see and do, you’ll be wanting to stay for a longer trip. One of the must-do things on most people’s list of activities when going anywhere in North Wales is to visit a castle. The good news is that the castles in Anglesey are true gems, showcasing the island’s historical significance and architectural splendour.
From the impressive Beaumaris Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage site, to the lesser-known castles such as Castell Aberlleiniog there is a castle to captivate every visitor. As well as medieval castles there are several hill forts and even a castellated ‘folly’ worth a visit. These ancient landmarks tell stories of medieval times and provide a glimpse into Anglesey’s past.
This post reveals the best forts and castles in Anglesey to add to your to-see list for 2023.
Map of the Forts & Castles in Anglesey
The Best Castles In Anglesey
Address: Castle Street, Beaumaris, Anglesey, LL58 8AP
Beaumaris Castle, located in the town of Beaumaris on the eastern coast of Anglesey, is a masterpiece of medieval architecture and one of the most impressive castles in Wales. Built-in the late 13th century under the orders of King Edward I, it was intended to be a symbol of English power and control over North Wales.
What sets Beaumaris Castle apart is its unique concentric design, featuring an inner ward surrounded by an outer curtain wall with four substantial towers. The castle is surrounded by a water-filled moat.
The castle’s strategic position near the Menai Strait allowed it to guard the sea route between Wales and Ireland. Despite being unfinished due to budget constraints, Beaumaris Castle showcases incredible craftsmanship and engineering, with its perfectly symmetrical layout and intricate details. Exploring the castle’s formidable walls, inner courtyards, and defensive structures gives visitors a sense of the medieval past and the challenges faced during its construction.
This UNESCO World Heritage site offers a fascinating glimpse into the military architecture and history of Wales.
Address: Llangoed, Beaumaris, Anglesey, LL58 8SR
Castell Aberlleiniog, a hidden gem nestled near the village of Llangoed, is a lesser-known castle that carries a rich history dating back to the 12th century. Perched on a hill, this ancient stronghold offers more than just a glimpse into the past—it provides visitors with breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.
As you ascend towards Castell Aberlleiniog, you’ll be captivated by the sense of intrigue that envelops this secluded site. The castle’s remnants, including fragments of its imposing walls and the remains of its gatehouse, hint at its former grandeur. Standing amidst the ruins, you can almost envision the castle’s heyday, when it served as a strategic defensive fortress.
Sausage Castle (Surf Point)
This grade II listed building, in Rhosneigr, is not a castle but a house which was built in 1906-8 for C H Palethorpe, the sausage manufacturer from Tipton, Worcestershire. It’s a castellated seaside ‘folly’ style house – the building looks like a large sandcastle perched on top of a cliff. It is lovingly referred to as Sausage Castle.
Forts In Anglesey
As well as the two medieval castles the forts in Anglesey are worth a visit. Whilst they may not be much to look at, these sites are definitely worth a visit so you can take a walk up the hills and take in the beautiful scenery.
Castell Bryn Gwyn
Address: Brynsiencyn, Isle of Anglesey, Gwynedd, Wales
Castell Bryn Gwyn is a fortified enclosure, thought to have been erected in the Neolithic period, and used throughout the Iron Age and the Roman period. It is thought that the site may have been occupied as early as 2500 BCE.
The site resembles a hill fort, with defensive banks 10m wide and almost 5m high in places. The entire site was originally enclosed in a second, smaller ditch, of which nothing remains.
Very little is known about this site, but it has been suggested that it was the site of a castle built by King Olaf, ancestor of Gruffudd ap Cynan.
Castell Caer Gybi (Holyhead)
Dating back to the 3rd century, Caer Gybi’s strategic location on low cliffs with a view of the sea suggests its inclusion in a defensive coastal network, potentially connected to the late Roman watchtower at Caer y Twr on the peak of Holyhead Mountain.
The fort’s walls are remarkably well-preserved, reaching heights of up to 13ft/4m and thicknesses of 5ft/1.5m. Remnants of four corner towers can also be observed. Positioned above the harbour, the most notable structure is the 26ft/7.9m northeast tower, although its upper portion is a later reconstruction, possibly from the medieval era.
Caer y Twr (Holyhead Mountain)
Castell Caer Gybi, also known as Holyhead Mountain Fort, is an ancient Roman-era defensive structure located on Holyhead Mountain. It is situated among a rocky outcrop, and is ideally placed for defence and likely served as a watchtower and possibly as a signal tower. Whilst it is just a pile of rubble the walls and fort structure can be made out. It offers stunning views of the Irish Sea and is worth the walk. Why not take the Holyhead circular walk to the summit to see the fort?
Nestled in the countryside near Llanbedrgoch, Din Dryfol is an ancient hillfort with origins dating back to the Iron Age. The remains of its defensive walls provide insight into its strategic importance and offer picturesque views of the surrounding landscape.
Castles Near Anglesey
Just across the Menai Strait from Anglesey are two more significant historical sites worth a visit when travelling to or from Anglesey.
Address: Castle Ditch, Caernarfon, Gwynedd, LL55 2AY
Caernarfon Castle, located just 8 miles from the Menai Suspension Bridge, is a monumental fortress that stands as a symbol of English dominance over Wales. Built by King Edward I in the late 13th century, this UNESCO World Heritage site showcases impressive military architecture. It was also the site of Prince Charles’ investiture as the Prince of Wales in 1969.
Explore Caernarfon Castle by climbing the winding staircases inside the polygonal towers and walking around the top of the walls. The views out over the Afon Seiont are spectacular. Look at the impressive displays and pretend to be in the stocks. Drink a cup of tea or grab an ice cream from the coffee shop within the grounds. On a warm sunny day, it’s a beautiful place to be.
Address: Bangor, Gwynedd, LL57 4HN
Penrhyn Castle, a 19th-century neo-Norman castle near the Menai Strait, showcases opulent interiors and extensive grounds.
Built by architect Thomas Hopper, it reflects the wealth and influence of the Pennant family. Inside, you’ll discover lavishly decorated rooms with intricate woodwork, detailed plasterwork, and a sense of refined luxury.
The castle’s grounds offer beautiful gardens, including the vibrant Walled Garden and picturesque Terrace Gardens with stunning views.
Additionally, Penrhyn Castle houses a railway museum in its former stable block. The museum displays a captivating collection of vintage locomotives, carriages, and model railways, providing a glimpse into the fascinating history of rail travel.
A visit to Penrhyn Castle immerses you in the grandeur of the Victorian era, combining remarkable architecture, lavish interiors, and serene landscapes. It’s an opportunity to explore the opulence of the past while enjoying the natural beauty of the castle’s surroundings.
Visiting Anglesey’s Castles Today
Whether you’re a history enthusiast, an architecture lover, or a curious traveller, Anglesey’s castles offer an insightful look into the past. Before visiting, check the opening hours, accessibility, and any special events.