infobox UK place
country = Wales
latitude= 53.14
longitude= -4.27
official_name= Caernarfon
unitary_wales= Gwynedd
lieutenancy_wales= Gwynedd
constituency_westminster= Caernarfon
post_town= CAERNARFON
postcode_district = LL55
postcode_area= LL
dial_code= 01286

static_image_caption=Caernarfon town from Caernarfon castle
os_grid_reference= SH485625
london_distance= 247.1mi
population= 9,611

Caernarfon (the original Welsh spelling is now almost always used in preference to the anglicised forms, "Caernarvon" or "Carnarvon") is a royal town in Gwynedd, northwest Wales.

The name comes from Welsh "Caer yn Arfon" = "castle in Arfon", referring to the Roman fort named Segontium. "Arfon" means " [region] opposite Anglesey". In Welsh it is pronounced|kaɨrˈnarvɔn (approximately "kire-NAR-von"), but it tends to be pronEng|kəˈnɑːvən in English.


Caernarfon is the traditional county town of the historic county of Caernarfonshire. The town is best known for its great stone castle, built by Edward I of England and consequently sometimes seen as a symbol of English domination. Edward's architect, James of St. George, may well have modelled the castle on the walls of Constantinople, possibly being aware of the alternative Welsh name "Caer Gystennin"; in addition, Edward was a supporter of the Crusader cause. On higher ground on the outskirts of the town are the remains of an earlier occupation, the Segontium Roman Fort.

Caernarfon was constituted a borough in 1284 by charter of Edward I. The charter, which was confirmed on a number of occasions, appointed the mayor of the borough Constable of the Castle ex officio. [ [ "The Town Charter", Caernarfon Royal Town Council, accessed October 21, 2007] ] The former municipal borough was designated a royal borough in 1963. The borough was abolished by the Local Government Act 1972 in 1974, and the status of "royal town" was granted to the community which succeeded it. [ [] The Town's Armorial Bearings & Royal Status (Caernarfon Online)]


In the year 1221 a charter granted to the canons of Penmon priory, in Anglesey, by Llywelyn the Great, refers to "Kaerinarfon" [] , and "Brut y Tywysogion" uses the forms "Kaerenarvon" and "Caerenarvon". [Thomas Jones (ed.) "Brut y Tywysogion [:] Peniarth MS. 20" (Cardiff, 1941). It should however be noted that medieval orthography in every language varies considerably and variant spellings of a name or word often occur in the same manuscript text."Kaerinarfon", "Kaerenarvon" and "Caerenarvon" correspond to Caer-yn-Arfon in modern Welsh orthography. The letter "y" would naturally be lost in the spoken language, thus giving the standard Welsh name "Caernarfon" ("Caer 'n Arfon"). ] An early alternative name was "Caer Seiont". It is called "Caer Aber Sei(o)n(t)" ("the fort on the estuary of the river Seiont") in the medieval Welsh tale "Breuddwyd Macsen", and was also known as "Caer Gystennin" ("The Castle of Constantin") [See Sir Ifor Williams' notes in his edition of "Breuddwyd Maxen" (Bangor, 1920). The name appears for the first time in the work of Nennius. Pre-conquest medieval Welsh poets such as Hywel ab Owain Gwynedd sometimes use the name "Caer Gystennin".]


Demographically the population of Caernarfon is the most Welsh-speaking community in all of Wales. 86.1% of the population could speak the Welsh language in the United Kingdom Census 2001, with the largest majority of Welsh speakers in the 10-14 age group, where 97.7% could speak it fluently. The town is nowadays a rallying-point for the Welsh nationalist cause. A famous welsh nationalist Cara Francis has a property on the outskirts of Caernarfon. Its population, with nearby Y Felinheli and Penygroes is about 14,000.

Caernarfon residents are known colloquially as "Cofis" (pronounced|ˈkɒvi). The word "Cofi" is also used locally in Caernarfon to describe the local dialect, which is a rather peculiar mixture of Welsh and English, swapping words and grammatical constructs somewhat haphazardly.Fact|date=October 2008


In 1911, David Lloyd George, then Member of Parliament for the borough, conceived the idea of holding the investiture of the new Prince of Wales at Caernarfon Castle, believing that this would help pacify nationalist opinion whilst arousing a more British patriotic feeling. The ceremony took place on 13 July, with the royal family paying a rare visit to Wales, and the future King Edward VIII was duly invested.

On 1 July 1969 the investiture ceremony was again held at Caernarfon Castle, the recipient on this occasion being Charles, Prince of Wales. Despite nationalist threats and protests, the ceremony went ahead without incident, except that two members of Mudiad Amddiffyn Cymru (Welsh Defence Movement), Alwyn Jones and George Taylor, were killed when their bomb - intended for the railway line at Abergele in order to stop the British Royal Train - exploded prematurely.

Caernarfon is also home to the regimental museum of the Royal Welch Fusiliers (archaic English spelling of the word "Welsh").

Culture and incidental information

Caernarfon railway station in St. Helen's Road is the northern terminus of the narrow gauge Welsh Highland Railway. Caernarfon was at one time an important port, exporting slate from the Nantlle Valley quarries. Caernarfon Airport is convert|4.5|mi|km to the south west, and offers pleasure flights and an aviation museum.

Caernarfon hosted the National Eisteddfod in 1862, 1894, 1906, 1921, 1935, 1959 and 1979. Unofficial National Eisteddfod events were also held there in 1877 and 1880.

In 1955, Caernarfon was in the running for the title of Capital of Wales on historical grounds. But the town's campaign was heavily defeated in a ballot of Welsh local authorities, with 11 votes compared to Cardiff's 136. Cardiff therefore became Wales' first official capital city.

Caernarfon has a small harbour and a Blue Flag beach at Victoria Harbour.

The oldest public house in Caernarfon is the Black Boy Inn which remained in the same family for over 40 years until recently sold to a hotel group.

The town is twinned with Landerneau in Britanny.

It appears as a settlement under the name Caernarvon in the PC computer game .


ee also

* Caernarfon (UK Parliament constituency)
* George Herbert, 5th Earl of Carnarvon

External links

* [ Official Website]
* [ of Caernarfon Castle]
* [ Encyclopaedia Britannica Caernarfon]
* [ Visit to Caernarfon]
* [ Facts and news about Caernarfon]
* [ Aerial photograph of Caernarfon]
* [ : photos of Caernarfon and surrounding area]

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