The Secret Pages: Castell Harlech

… providing an accessible solution to a previously inaccessible 13th century monument, and not only to visitors in wheelchairs – but to elderly, less ambulant and families with young children/pushchairs …

Cadw presentation on the new visitor centre and bridge

A geological pimple swelling
on the sea-sniffing snout of the Rhinogydd,
one finger of Longshank’s throttling hand.

Across the moat and into the routed gatehouse,
running ahead, or the children running
ahead, to burst into Cadw’s green heart.

Up the spiral – got you, helical – stairs,
slit windows strobing, a shoddy zoetrope,
to cram for photos by the summit flag.

Master James of St George, native of Savoy,
designed the world heritage site with walls
within walls and much Savoyard detail.

Circle the wall-walk, son-father, father-son,
guarded with masonry only knee-high,
each parent alert for edging staggers.

The Great Hall where Owain held parliament
after four years’ siege: what good the Water Gate
for the miserable garrison (half a spear apiece)?

An imprint of continual defeat: a people
infantilised by the first prince of Wales,
ignored and assimilated to EnglandandWales.

Looking West through the ragged-jambed windows
Brân feasted his followers for twenty years,
until one opened the door to the East, England and death.


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