Alex Gartshore

TAYLOR, A. Four Great Castles (Newtown, 1983) 

Grandison Shield


The shield, found on the title page of the book, is that of Sir Otto de Grandison, friend and servant to King Edward I of England,1 the king responsible for England's conquest of Wales2.

Taylor writes that after Edward's return to England, Otto was made Justiciar of North Wales and constable of Caernarfon castle, adding ‘... It is thus that his arms have been chosen to adorn this essay's title page’.3 This seems fitting, given that the book's subject is Royal Welsh castles and that the foreword is by the Prince of Wales - Otto's symbol is metaphorically standing guard over the Welsh royals.

Oddly, the reader is not given any information about the shield except in the prologue, and what information there is, is sparse. It seems obvious therefore that Taylor only wished to pay homage to Otto, and did not intend to give over much space to talking about him, instead keeping to the subject matter of the four great castles.

In 1282, Otto was almost drowned crossing the Menai Bridge in a famous incident in which just under 350 men drowned4

HEMMINGWAY, J. Panorama of the beauties, curiosities, and antiquities of North Wales (London, 1835)

The Menai Bridge


Rogers' image of the Menai Bridge in the Panorama of North Wales book is a beautifully engraved image of the bridge, featuring a ship.

The ship is similar in design to an 18th century brig, suggesting that Rogers was intending to connote an air of naval prowess.

A Panorama of North Wales is a Victorian travel guide5 and as such it may be assumed that this image was intended to help promote tourism to the Menai Bridge, explaining the very picturesque setting. The ship is perhaps placed into the image to encourage visitors to view naval attractions.

The image appears to be unique, if not at least very rare, as there appear to be no similar images in existence.

Map of North Wales


This final image is perhaps the most interesting. It takes the form of a fold-out map on the cover page of the book. Its purpose is almost certainly to aid the book's owner in deciding where to travel next on their tourist trip, following from the book's purpose as a travel guide.

Interestingly, a previous owner of the book has recorded on the opposing page when they first visited Wales, and then the dates of subsequent visits, first in 1836, then 1844, 1859 and finally 1862. This suggests that the book saw its intended use commonly, as can also be concluded from the thinness of the map along the fold points.

One would perhaps expect a map attached to a travel guide to highlight tourist attractions, particularly those covered by the book. The absence of such markings suggests that the map may have been a later addition by a previous owner, as opposed to having been inserted during publishing. This theory is supported by the fact that the rest of the images in the book have been engraved and published by a different company.


J. Burke, A General and Heraldic Dictionary of the peerages of England, Ireland and Scotland (Henry Colburn and Richard Bentley: New Burlington St., 1831) pg227

  1. M. Prestwich, Edward the first (University of California Press: Berkley, 1988) pg170
  2. A. Taylor Four Great Castles (Gwasg Gregynog: Newtown, 1983). pg3
  3. Ibid
  4. Abe Books, Panorama of North Wales: Handbook for Wales. Available from: Accessed [08/05/2013]

Alex Gartshore