Caernarfon is a Royal town, community and port in Gwynedd, Wales, with a population of 9,611. It lies along the A487 road, on the eastern banks of the Menai Straits, opposite the Isle of Anglesey. The city of Bangor is to the north-east, while Snowdonia fringes Caernarfon to the east and south-east. Carnarvon and Caernarvon are anglicised spellings of Caernarfon that were officially superseded in 1926 and 1974 respectively.
Abundant natural resources in and around the Menai Straits enabled human habitation in the Caernarfon area during pre-history. The Ordovices were the Celtic tribe documented as living in this region during classical antiquity. The Roman fort called Segontium was established in about the year 80 to subjugate the Ordovices as part of the Roman conquest of Britain. The Romans were victorious and occupied the region until their departure in the 5th century, after which Caernarfon became part of the Kingdom of Gwynedd. In the late 11th century, William I, King of England, ordered the construction of a motte-and-bailey at Caernarfon, to attempt the Norman invasion of Wales. He was unsuccessful and most of Wales remained independent until 1282-3. In the 13th century, Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, ruler of Gwynedd, refused to pay homage to Edward I, King of England. This prompted the English conquest of Gwynedd, and subsequent construction of Caernarfon Castle, one of the largest and most imposing fortifications built by the English in order to control Wales. In 1284 the English-style county of Caernarfonshire was established (Statute of Rhuddlan), composed of Caernarfon (the new county town) and its hinterland; and in 1284 Caernarfon was made a borough and market town, and the seat of Edward I's government in North Wales.
The ascent of the Tudor dynasty to the throne of England eased hostilities between the English and Welsh, and resulted in Caernarfon Castle falling into a state of disrepair. However, Caernarfon continued to flourish, leading to its present status as a major tourist centre and seat of Gwynedd Council, with a thriving harbour and marina; Caernarfon has expanded beyond its medieval walls and experienced heavy suburbanisation. Its population includes the largest percentage of Welsh-speaking citizens anywhere in Wales. The status of Royal Borough was granted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1963, which was converted into the title of Royal Town in 1974.