Castle Square, Caernarfon

Y Maes or Castle Square, Caernarfon

This open space, known locally as Y Maes, has been a Caernarfon focal point since soon after construction of the medieval castle and town walls. It was a hillock known as Y Maes Glas (the green field), used for leisure activities including bull baiting. It was transformed in the early 19th century when the slate quay was built nearby. A large retaining wall was built along the southern edge, enabling Y Maes to be levelled to form a square where fairs and markets were held.

Photo of Y Maes in 1970
Y Maes in 1970, courtesy of the RCAHMW and its Coflein website

In the 20th century it also acted as an informal bus station, as shown in the 1970 photo, from the Office of Information Collection of the National Monuments Record of Wales (shown here courtesy of the Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments of Wales). The photo also shows the statue of Prime Minister Lloyd George and the town's Victorian fountain, both now in different positions nearby.

Starting at the castle and going anti-clockwise around the square, objects of interest include (click on underlined words for details):

  • Lloyd George statue
  • Sir Hugh Owen statue – Hugh (1804-1881) came from Llangeinwen, Anglesey, and was a driving force in Welsh educational improvements, including the North Wales Scholarship Association and the University of Wales.
  • Castle Hotel – a late Georgian building, conceived as the central feature in a row. Four houses were built to the right but only one to the left, where the gap was filled by a newspaper office, wrecked by fire in 1984. The three “missing” houses were built after that, completing the symmetrical row.
  • Former Morgan Lloyd bonded warehouse – only the fourth storey is visible at this level.
  • Post Office and memorial plaque to telegraph and wireless pioneer Sir William Preece.
  • War memorial.
  • Morgan Lloyd pub – was a wholesale outlet for Morgan Lloyd, who distributed wines and spirits across much of North Wales for 50 years. He was a churchwarden at Llanbeblig, where he was buried in 1894.

Postcode: LL55 2NF    View Location Map

Copies of the old photo and other images are available from the RCAHMW. Contact: nmr.wales@rcahmw.gov.uk