|Part of Flintshire|
|Part of Ewloe Castle's Welsh Keep and curtain wall|
|In use||Open to public|
|Built by||Owain Gwynedd
Llywelyn the Great
Llywelyn the Last
|Height||10 metres (33 ft)|
Ewloe Castle (Welsh: Castell Ewlo) is a native Welsh castle near the town of Ewloe in Flintshire, Wales. It was one of the last fortifications built by the Princes of Wales before the invasion of Wales by Edward I.
Ewloe's position near the English border was strategic, controlling the road to Chester and commanding the lands of North East Wales (Welsh Perfeddwlad). It stands on a steeply-sloped promontory within the forest of Ewloe overlooking the junction of two streams; but there is higher ground to the south.
Ewloe Castle has the appearance of a motte-and-bailey castle. It has two courtyards with a D-shaped keep inside the triangular upper ward with a curtain wall that forms a sloping stone revetment around the motte. At the western end of the outer ward is the ruin of a circular tower on a rocky knoll.
There are no gateways connecting the castle courtyards. Access was by ramps up to the parapets. The two curtain walls are not joined together. The inner buildings were made of timber. An outer rampart defends the higher ground that lies to the south of the castle.
The first floor entrance is typical of Norman keeps. But its D-shaped tower is unusual. Usually they project out from a curtain wall but at Ewloe it stands isolated in the middle of the upper ward surrounded by a curtain wall. However, a similar keep was built by Llywelyn the Great at Castell y Bere.
Most of the keep is in ruins but the front still stands to full height. The tower contained a single apartment above a lower chamber. The outer walls rose higher than the top storey's pitched roof, to protect the roof from projectiles. Slots for storage are still visible in the roof spaces.
Ewloe Castle is a relic of the brief triumph that the Welsh prince Llywelyn the Last had over the Anglo-Norman Marcher Lords. It followed his successful recapture of this part of Wales after the Norman invasion of Gwynedd in the late 11th century. North east Wales, which had been fought over by the Princes of Gwynedd and the Earls of Chester for more than 150 years, was now at relative peace.
The present ruins are those of the final stone fortification built by Llywelyn the Last. Its construction, which began in 1257, incorporated previous work undertaken by the earlier Welsh leaders, Owain Gwynedd and Llywelyn the Great. The fortified site had been established near to where Welsh forces had triumphed over the English forces of Henry II at the Battle of Ewloe (Welsh: Brwydr Cwnsyllt) in 1157.
In July 1277, at the outbreak of the Welsh Wars, Edward I left Chester to march up the west coast of the Dee Estuary. After an advanced base was established at Flint (a day's travel from Chester), building work immediately began on Flint Castle. Ewloe Castle is not mentioned in the 1277 invasion chronicles suggesting Welsh forces had abandoned the area and retreated to a stronger defensive position along the Clwydian Hills further to the west.
The only contemporary reference to the Ewloe Castle is in the Chester Plea Rolls which mentions a report sent to Edward II in 1311. The Justice of Chester wrote to the King regarding the history of the manor at Ewloe from the middle of the 12th century. The rolls records that by 1257 Llywelyn the Last had regained Ewloe from the English and built a castle in the wood; noting in 1311 that much of the castle was still standing.
Ewloe Castle now stands within Wepre Park. It is open to the public. There is free access.
The site is under the care of Cadw - the Welsh heritage agency. In November 2009, the castle with 16 acres (65,000 m2) of pasture and 8.5 acres (34,000 m2) of woodland.were put up for auction. Flintshire County Council said Ewloe and the site it occupies are protected from any development.
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