The Secret Castle on Anglesey, Part One
Imagine a secret castle camouflaged by a canopy of some leafy woodland and consisting of a small motte and bailey with four round towers, on the far east corner of an island in the Irish Sea.
Well, this is not something in the deep recess of your imagination, because there is such a castle in Wales, on the island of Anglesey to be exact.
Whether by design or accident, the secret castle is called Castell Aberlleiniog, named after a small river that runs past the site and into an estuary at Friars Bay.
It is a couple of miles or so north of the world famous World Heritage site, Beaumaris Castle in the town of the same name.
There is an amazing tale attached to this secret castle at Aberlleiniog, and one not widely known in the annals of the historic Castles of Wales.
According to official historical records, the castle was built in 1088 by Hugh D'Avranches, Earl of Chester, one of the Marcher Lords.
These characters were, of course, Anglo-Norman or Norman and after conquering England in 1066, they turned their attention westward to Wales with the aim of challenging the Welsh princes.
As part of their strategy of achieving military supremacy over the area called Wales, they built a series of fortifications and castles along the England and Wales border.
Hugh D'Avranches had already defeated a Gwynedd prince, Gruffydd ap Cynan, and imprisoned him at Chester.
In a move designed to further consolidate Norman control in North West Wales, D'Avranches built Aberlleiniog in 1088. Its location was chosen for its close access to the sea, meaning men and arms could be landed quickly and with relative ease.
But apparently the Earl's plans were disrupted after the Gwynedd prince is recorded as having escaped from Chester, returning
to Anglesey to regather his remaining troops and then burning Aberlleiniog Castle to the ground.
So the question many ask is whether the original Castle was made of timber. Perhaps this is so, as the present structure is built of stone, many centuries later.
There again perhaps the records are incorrect. What if there was never a castle as described? It would certainly fit in with the description of it being a "secret castle"! So secret, that it never existed....
Is this what so many myths are made of, a narrative propounded in order to suite a modern day message laced in nostalgia and atavism, under the guise of culture and heritage?
Of course, no one can doubt the existence of the nearby Beaumaris Castle and its rich history, but as for the secret castle called Aberlleiniog, we will have to wait and see.
The story continues later, in part 2...........