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Harlech (Welsh pronunciation: [ˈharlɛχ]) is a seaside resort and community in Gwynedd within the historic boundaries of Merionethshire in north-west Wales. It lies on Tremadog Bay in the centre of Gwynedd, within the Snowdonia National Park. Of a population of 1,447, 51 per cent habitually speak the Welsh language. Its best-known landmark, Harlech Castle, was begun in 1283 by Edward I of England, captured by Owain Glyndŵr, and later served as a stronghold for Henry Tudor. It was built next to the sea, but coastline changes mean it now lies on a cliff face, about half a mile (800 m) inland. The town has developed housing estates in the low town area and hillside housing in the high town around the shopping street, church, and castle. The two are linked by a steep, winding road called "Twtil".
Harlech from the beach area; the castle is seen centre-left
|Population||1,447 (2011 Census)|
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
The exact derivation of the name "Harlech" is unclear. Some, mostly older, sources claim that it derives from Arddlech, i.e. ardd (high) + llech (rock), referring to the prominent crag on which the castle stands. More recent sources tend to go for a simpler derivation from the two Welsh words hardd (fair/fine) and llech (slate/rock).
As late as the 19th century some texts referred to "Harddlech" and "Harddlech Castle". This name appears in the mid-19th century translation of the Mabinogion: "And one afternoon he was at Harddlech in Ardudwy, at a court of his. And they were seated upon the rock of Harddlech overlooking the sea." Contemporary documents from the time of the Mabinogion do not mention Harlech, referring only to Llywelyn building his castle "at Ardudwy".
The town's railway station is served by the Cambrian Coast Line. It also contains Ffordd Pen Llech, a street which descends the rock spur to the north of the castle, and has the steepest signed gradient on a public road in the United Kingdom.
Ysgol Ardudwy is the county secondary school for children between the ages of 11–16. Ysgol Tanycastell is the town's primary school for children aged 3–11. The town was until 2017 also the home of Wales's only long-term adult residential college, Coleg Harlech, also known as the "college of second chance". The premises remain in use as part of Adult Learning Wales - Addysg Oedolion Cymru.
Theatr Harlech (formerly Theatr Ardudwy) is located on the Coleg Harlech campus and stages a varied selection of plays, music, and films throughout the year.
Other attractions in Harlech include its beach backed with sand dunes and the famous Royal Saint David's Golf Club, which hosted its fifth British Ladies Amateur in 2009. The Rhinogydd (or Rhinogs) range of mountains rises to the east.
A World War II-era fighter aircraft was found on Harlech beach in 2007. The discovery of the Lockheed P-38 Lightning has been described as "one of the most important WWII finds in recent history". The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) is not divulging the precise location of the U.S. Army Air Forces plane, known as the Maid of Harlech, but hope eventually to salvage the wreck.
In traditional and popular cultureEdit
- A residential street in Harlech, Ffordd Pen Llech, may be recognized by the Guinness World Records as the steepest residential street in the world.
- In the second branch of the Mabinogi ("Branwen, Daughter of Llŷr"), Harlech is the seat of Bendigeidfran, Branwen's brother and king of the Isle of the Mighty.
- The song Men of Harlech is traditionally said to describe events during the seven-year siege of the castle in 1461–1468.
- ITV Wales & West was formerly known as HTV/Harlech Television.
In birth order:
- Owain Glyndŵr (c. 1359 – c. 1415), Welsh Rebellion leader and the last Welshman to claim the title Prince of Wales
- Ellis Wynne (1671–1734), Welsh-language author
- Alfred Perceval Graves (1846–1931), poet, bard and songwriter. He and a large family, including his son the poet Robert Graves, spent summers at a large house, "Erinfa", north-east of Harlech.
- George Davison (1854–1930), photographer
- Margaret More (1903–1966), composer, was born here.
- Elinor Lyon (1921–2008), children's writer. She retired here in 1975 with her schoolteacher husband.
- David Gwilym Morris Roberts (born 1924), civil engineer, was born here.
- The town is in the unitary authority of Gwynedd, formed in 1996. From 1974 to 1996 it was in the Meirionydd District of the 1974 County of Gwynedd, and before 1974 it was in the historic county of Merionethshire.
- "Town population and Welsh speakers". Retrieved 16 May 2015.
- Memoirs of Owen Glendower, (Owain Glyndwr): with a sketch of the history of the ancient Britons, from the conquest of Wales by Edward the First, to the present time, illustrated with various notes, genealogical & topographical at Google Books
- Planet geography , p. 207, at Google Books
- Probably from the English 'Toothill', meaning "look-out hill".
- Notices Illustrative of Cambrian History and Antiquities, The New Monthly Magazine, Volume 10 - Page 307, 1818.
- The Celtic Review: Volumes 9–10, Donald MacKinnon, E. C. Carmichael Watson, 1975.
- Anthony David Mills: Oxford Dictionary of British Place Names (Oxford: OUP, 1991).
- The History of the Princes, the Lords Marcher, and the Ancient Nobility of Powys Fadog, and the Ancient Lords of Arwystli, Cedewen, and Meirionydd :Volume 6, Jacob Youde William Lloyd, 1887.
- The Poetical Works of Lewis Glyn Cothi: A celebrated bard, p. 21, Lewis Glyn Cothi, 1837.
- Thomas Jones: Brut y Tywysogion/Chronicle of the Princes, Red Book of Hergest (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1955).
- "Ward population 2011". Retrieved 16 May 2015.
- Charity hopes to lift World War II fighter plane from sea WalesOnline, 8 May 2010
- Sgowtiaid Gwynedd Scouts Facebook
- "The Guardian"
- Patrick K. Ford, The Mabinogi and other Medieval Welsh Tales (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1977), pp. 57–72.
- The Oxford Companion to British History (Oxford: OUP, 1997) p. 454; Matthew Bennett: Dictionary of Ancient & Medieval Warfare (2001).
- This is a list of people with a Wikipedia page who were born, bred, long resident and/or died in Harlech.
- R. P. Graves: Robert Graves: The assault heroic, Biography 1895–1926, p. 67
- Introduction by Elinor Lyon, The House in Hiding, Fidra Books, Edinburgh, 2006, p. v.