Castles and Town Walls 
of King Edward in Gwynedd (1986)
Great Britain

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In the former principality of Gwynedd, in northern Wales, the castles of Beaumaris and Harlech, thanks largely to the greatest military engineer of the time, James of Saint George, and the fortified complexes of Caernarfon and Conwy, all extremely well-preserved, bear witness to the works of colonisation and defense carried out throughout the reign of Edward I, king of England (1272-1307), and to the military architecture of the time. 

Great Britain 1969. World Cultural Heritage. Stamp #1 of five. The King's Gate, Caernarfon Castle. Great Britain 1969. World Cultural Heritage. Stamp #2 of five. The Eagle Tower, Caernarfon Castle. Great Britain 1969. World Cultural Heritage. Stamp #1 of five. Queen Eleanor's Gate, Caernarfon Castle.

Conwy (Caernarfon) Castle was designed for King Edward I by Master James of St. George  and was built between 1283 and 1289.  James of St. George was a master mason summoned from mainland Europe to implement Edward's plans. He was born around 1230 and worked on a number of great European castles before starting on his massive undertaking for Edward. The beautiful Beaumaris Castle was his last design in Wales and with this he had perfected the concept of the "concentric castle". 

Conwy is said to have been captured as the result of a trick in 1401. On Good Friday, with most of the garrison at church, a carpenter gained access and admitted a group of Welsh rebels who proclaimed their allegiance to Owain Glyndwr. Most were pardoned when the castle was finally returned to the crown, others were jailed. 

For many years the castle was not properly maintained and it was bought by Viscount Conwy in 1628 for just 100 pounds. The local authority took over in the 19th century and now the castle is cared for by Cadw (Welsh Historic Monuments). 

Great Britain 1978. World Cultural Heritage. Caernarfon Castle.

Great Britain 2002. World Cultural Heritage. British Landscape-series. Conwy.

Great Britain 1988. Caernarfon Castle. Harrison Printing.

Great Britain 1991. World Cultural Heritage. Caernarfon Castle. Enschede Printing.

There are many reasons for any stamp to be reprinted with slightly different designs especially in the case of definitives which may have a long run. In the case of the GB Castles with decimal currency the
principle ones are: awarding the printing contract to different firms (Harrison and Enschedé), different engravers (Chris. Matthews of Harrison and Inge Madle of Enschedé), new security measures (elliptical perforations, optically variable ink for the Queen's head which changed in consequence to a non-engraved silhouette that was printed by the silk screen process), and so on. 

Incidentally, among the differences between the Harrison and Enschedé printings of the security issues is the fact that Enschedé's ellipses are placed one hole lower than Harrison's.  The two engravers also had their own style, notably in the shape of the C of castle (and Caernarfon). 

The name of the Welsh castle is spelt in the Welsh language (not dialect). The reproductions of the pre-decimal Castles definitives, with the Dorothy Wilding portrait of the Queen, that was issued on 22 March this year in a miniature sheet but with decimal currency do not bear the names of the castles. Source: Mr. Douglas Myall (Great Britain). 

Sources and Links:

Other World Heritage Sites in Great Britain (on this site). Inactive links are not described on postage stamps. Please refer to the UNESCO-listing, United Kingdom Section, for further information about the individual properties. 

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Revised 19 jul 2006  
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