Ewloe Castle is a native Welsh castle which was constructed by Llywelyn the Last in 1257. Built from locally-sourced sandstone, it was strategically situated close to the English border and controlled the road to Chester. Standing in the forest of Ewloe it was also ideally placed for good hunting grounds.
Ewloe was built during the brief triumph Llywelyn the Last had over the Norman Marcher Lords.
There is some debate over the age of the keep. Some authorities think it was originally constructed by Llywelyn the Great because of its Norman-style first floor entrance and how similar it is to LLywelyn the Great's keep at Castell y Bere. The remains we see today are from Llywelyn the Last's construction.
The keep itself, known as the Welsh Tower, is a D-shaped tower standing isolated in the centre of the upper ward. It has been built close to its curtain wall and is therefore a unique example of native concentric defence.
The keep is ruined, but the front still stands to most of its original height. Like most native Welsh towers it is two stories high. Inside the keep a staircase winds up to the parapet. The keep only had a single room situated above a storage chamber which would have been reachable via a trapdoor.
The castle has two courtyards, which strangely have no gate connecting them together. Instead they were accessed from different gates on the north side. There would probably also have been a connection at parapet level.
At the far western end of the outer ward there are the remains of a tower which again has no courtyard access and could only have been reached from the wall.
From a defensive point of view, Ewloe is somewhat suspect. It's overlooked by higher ground to the south and there are blind spots along the walls. From the keep it would be hard to see attackers coming in from the woods and the gatehouse is comparatively weak. It's hard to see how it would withstand a siege.
The answer is that it was never seriously designed to stand up to a siege. The Welsh were running a guerrilla-style war and Ewloe was more of a provocative statement to the English that this forest is Welsh.
Ewloe Castle is not mentioned in the records of Edward's invasion in 1277 and it's likely that the Welsh had retreated to better defensive positions elsewhere. Edward didn't bother with Ewloe and it was left to fall into ruin.
The only reference to Ewloe Castle in contemporary records came in 1311. The Justice of Chester wrote to King Edward II about the history of the manor of Ewloe. He reported that in 1311 much of the castle was still standing.
Like many of its contemporaries it was used as a quarry and stone from Ewloe was probably used for buildings in nearby Flint and Mold.
Today Ewloe Castle stands in Wepre Park, still surrounded by its ancient (and protected) woodland. The castle is under the care of Cadw and access is free.
There are no facilities specifically at the castle, however facilities available within the park include a visitors' centre with cafe and toilets, fishing, woodland walks and a golf course.
Keep and bailey at Ewloe Castle
View of the keep