In the twelfth and thirteenth century, Ewloe was a densely wooded area near the main road from Chester to North Wales. After the Norman conquest of England, this area came under the control of the marcher lords, but the political turmoil and civil war between queen Matilda and king Stephen, allowed the Welsh to re-occupy the land. The Ewloe Castle was erected around 1257 by the Welsh prince Llywelyn ap Gruffudd in the times of the weak reign of English king Henry III. It was built near the battlefield of 1157, during which English forces under Henry II were defeated in an ambush by the Welsh.
In 1277 king Edward I began the First Welsh War by moving his forces from Chester, building nearby Flint Castle and eventually quickly occupying all the lands east of Conwy. The Ewloe Castle was not mentioned at the time by the chroniclers, which suggests that the Welsh withdrew without a fight. Since on the orders of Edward, nearby strongholds were established in Rhuddlan and Flint, which could be supplied by sea, the Ewloe Castle seemed to be useless to English conquerors. Abandoned, at the end of the Middle Ages, it was in ruin.
The castle was built on a small hill in a valley to the south of the Wepre Brook River, to which the smaller New Inn stream joined to the east. It was built of sandstone in the form typical of Welsh constructions. Its central element was a tower built on top of a rocky hill in the shape of an elongated horseshoe and a keep function. Its walls at the base were 2 meters thick, and the height was 11 meters. The walls of the tower were higher than its upper floor and topped with a wall-walk of defenders and battlement. At times of danger, the breastwork could be surrounded by a hoarding porch, mounted on a small four-sided openings in the walls. The first floor was occupied by a single chamber, located above the ground floor room. There was no fireplace inside, but the heat was provided by an open hearth set on a stone pillar that also supported the timber basement floor. The communication between the wall-walk and the upper floor was provided by stairs placed in the wall thickness. A hatch in the floor and a ladder led to the room in the ground floor. The entrance was secured by a wall forming a passage with stairs on the south side of the tower.
Keep was surrounded by a defensive wall erected on a plan similar to a triangle with rounded corners. On the western side, a fortified outer ward was located with a cylindrical tower of at least two floors in the westernmost part. There were probably an auxiliary timber buildings in its courtyard. Separate timber bridges led to both parts, located from the north-east to the inner ward and north to the outer ward. Interestingly and atypical there was no direct connection between the upper and the outer ward. The castle was surrounded by a deep dry moat on both sides.
The castle has been preserved in the form of a ruin. There are three walls of the keep, defensive walls with incomplete heights and relics of a cylindrical tower. The monument is under the care of Cadw, the national heritage agency of Wales. Access to it and sightseeing is free. It is worth remembering that the castle is not located in the village of Ewloe, but north of it. There are two paths to the ruins, while a longer walk takes about 15 minutes.
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Kenyon J., The medieval castles of Wales, Cardiff 2010.
Lindsay E., The castles of Wales, London 1998.
Morgane G., Castles in Wales, Talybont 2008.
Website castlesfortsbattles.co.uk, Ewloe castle.