Porth Mawr, Caernarfon

Conservation work begins at one of Caernarfon’s most significant heritage structures.

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Wales is blessed with a landscape rich in ancient monuments and historic sites. Caernarfon’s East Gate, Porth Mawr, is a significant part of this rich tapestry. It stands as a captivating reminder of Caernarfon’s past and how life there has changed over time.

The borough of Caernarfon was established by Edward I under the Statute of Wales in the late 13th Century and was the centre of government for North Wales. It was protected by the erection the Town Wall, with Caernarfon Castle located at its South end. As part of this extensive system of defence Porth Mawr was the main landward entrance to the medieval borough. It has greeted all those, friend or foe, who wished to enter the town over the centuries. But it stood as more than just a gateway it was a symbol of power and oppression, further emphasised by its housing of the Exchequer in its upper storey. This made it the financial and administrative centre for the shire counties of North Wales. Today Porth Mawr remains one of the most significant pieces of the town’s built heritage, as part of the UNESCO designated Castles and Town Walls of Edward 1 World Heritage Site, which helps to bring huge economic benefits to the community.

With this great heritage in mind Recclesia is delighted to be embarking on a project supporting Cadw to complete conservation works to the gatehouse walls and repairs to the roof. As we approach our 10th anniversary in 2019, this project continues a tradition developed since our founding - helping to preserve and maintain many of Wales’ most historically significant sites.

Jamie Moore, Founder and MD of Recclesia, reiterated this saying,

We’re thrilled to be working with Cadw on the first phase of this transformation project to an important part of Caernarfon’s built heritage. Recclesia has helped conserve and repair numerous historic buildings in Wales, so it is fitting to be working on this outstanding structure in the year of our tenth anniversary.

Built in the 13th century, the east gate has been rebuilt and altered numerously over the centuries, with the last major reimagining of the historic structure occurring in the 1960s when the present gabled parapet was put in place of a 19th Century Guildhall.

Since the 1960s works the roof system that was installed has failed in various areas allowing leaks to saturate the masonry structure. Coupled with the presence of extensive areas of hard cementitious mortar, the building is showing several signs of distress. Our team are therefore due to repair areas of the roof and rake out hard mortar to all of the walls to help the building to dry out. Whilst these works are carried out Recclesia will assist the Architects Donald Insall Associates to survey various areas of the structure to help draw up works for a transformational project CADW have planned for the future.

The nature of the works and very central location of Porth Mawr within the town required carefully planning to allow full access to the structure for the conservation works, whilst minimising disruption to the surrounding community. Recclesia and CADW are therefore working closely to develop the approach to the works ensuring the best for the structure and the community of shops, restaurants, and venues which surround the ancient streets and passages around Porth Mawr.

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