Aberlleniog Castle, Anglesey, Gwynedd
Minor road off B5109
Castell Aberlleiniog was a motte-and-bailey castle raised in the late 11th century.
However, what you see today situated upon the motte at Aberlleiniog is a much later fort dating back to the English Civil War.
The castle is set in a well managed and beautiful nature reserve, which provides a lovely walk from an easy to find car park on the main road.
~ History ~
1075 ~ The exiled Gruffudd ap Cynan, grandson of the king of Gwynedd, who was slain in a dynastic dispute, and forced to flee Wales with his father to seek refuge among the Vikings of Dublin, returns to Anglesey to recover his inheritance.
He has the backing of the Silkenbeard Vikings, who are keen tp maintain control of the sea routes and raiding interests around North Wales.
Gruffudd establishes establishes a foothold on Anglesey and from there launches a raid against the newly erected stronghold of Degannwy. Here his combined Welsh and Viking forces clash with the Norman baron Robert of Rhuddlan and 'other fierce knights of the French.
1080's ~ Gruffudd's continued attacks on newly built Norman castle's see's him eventually captured and imprisoned in Chester.
1088 ~ Lord Robert of Rhuddlan builds the motte-and-bailey castle of Aberlleiniog to protect the strategically important island of Anglesey from Gruffudd's forces that still remain at large, raiding along the coast with their Irish Viking allies.
1093 ~ The hated Lord Robert is 'killed by a volley of Welsh arrows'. The Welsh raiders then sail off with Robert's severed head attached to the mast of one of their vessels back to Ireland.
1094 ~ Gruffudd ap Cynan escapes from his Norman prison in Chester and rejoins his forces. He returns to Anglesey and with the support of a strong Viking fleet from the Isle of Man, destroys Lord Robert's castle.
Soon after Gruffudd's attack on Aberlleiniog Castle, Lord Robert's cousin, the powerful Hugh d'Avranches, 1st Earl of Chester, together with another powerful Norman marcher Earl, Hugh of Shewsbury, invade Anglesey with a substantial army to re-establish Norman control of the island. In the face of overwhelming Norman forces, Gruffudd retreats back into exile to Ireland with his Viking allies.
1098 ~ King Magnus 'Barelegs' of Norway, who had succeeded his father Olaf five years earlier, is keen to restore prosperous trade and raiding links around the coast of Scotland, Isle of Man, North Wales and Ireland. Control of Anglesey is seen as strategically important in securing this.
Magnus sails westwards with a large fleet and takes control of the strategically crucial Orkney islands. He then sails onto the Inner and Outer Hebrides before moving south, taking control of the Isle of Man and the coastal region of Galloway, with Anglesey his next destination.
Magnus Barelegs' fleet launches a surprise attack on the Norman forces on Anglesey, with Magnus himself said to have personally slain the Earl Hugh of Shrewsbury with an arrow. Following this devastaing attack the Vikings withdraw. Soon afterwards the Norman's, fearing Anglesey as too vulnerable to further attack from the sea, retreat all the way back across North Wales to Chester.
Gruffudd ap Cynan again returns to Anglesey as client ruler to his Viking allies, and from here begins his conquest to reclaim his Gwynedd inheritance.
1099 ~ Gruffudd ap Cynan is recognised as undisputed King of Gwynedd and most powerful ruler in Wales.
1102 ~ Magnus returns to Anglesey for timber to refortify his stronghold on the Isle of Man. The castle of Aberlleiniog now long abandoned and with it any Norman control in North Wales.
1137 ~ Gruffudd dies having secured a lasting dynasty for his son Owain Gwynedd and his great-grandson, Llywelyn the Great, Prince of Wales.
1295 ~ Following his wars of conquest against Llywelyn, the last native Prince of Wales, Kind Edward I's ring of castle's to secure Wales, culminates in the building of Beaumaris Castle, on a new flat coastal site of 'beautiful marshes', west of the long abandoned Aberlleniog Castle.
1640's ~ Thomas Cheadle, Constable of Beaumaris, adapts the motte of Aberlleniog into an artillery fort to control the Menai Straits during the English Cival War.