If you live in a country with as many castles as Wales, it comes as no surprise that not all of them are well known. If you are not a castle of magnificent beauty, exceptional location or great historical importance, the knowledge of your existence might be reduced to local citizens or those with a special interest in castles.
One of these examples is Ewloe Castle. Nobody is exactly sure why it was built and why, out of all places, in that corner of a wood. It is literally in the middle of a wood surrounded by high trees with the highest tower barely poking out and the castle compound hard to defend against attacks from the high ground just behind it. The only existing reference is that in 1257 Llywelyn ap Gruffudd built ‘a castle in the corner of the woods’. Nothing more.
But looking at what was happening in Wales at the time can give some clues. Llywelyn, Prince of Gwynedd, was destined to become Prince of Wales. He had defeated his brother in a battle to establish his power and pushed the English back to the border, retaking his family lands around Ewloe. So when he built the castle in 1257 it was more a statement of power. The castle, being a typical Welsh castle, follows the shape of the most convenient rocky outcrop, as part of its defences. This is one of the design rules all Welsh castles obey, another one having a characteristic D-shaped tower. So this might explain why Llywelyn chose this corner of the woods.
Unfortunately the upper ward was closed to visitors so I couldn’t take any pictures close up but it still gives you a first impression of the castle ruins.
The ruins are probably not the most spectacular you can find in north Wales but the location is unique and to get there you have to take a short stroll through Wepre Park which is really pretty. Be aware though it can be relatively busy with locals at peak times on weekends and parking can be a bit of a challenge.