THE LOST CASTLE
While Beaumaris and its buildings have been popular attractions for many decades, another castle close by has a more hidden history. The hilltop fort of Castell Aberlleiniog (pictured below) sits in the middle of dense broadleaf woodland three miles north of Beaumaris. But it has only recently been opened to the public. The castle was established by the Normans in 1081, as they swept north to subjugate Wales following the invasion of 1066. It was a motte and bailey castle of typical Norman design. But as a symbol of Norman domination, it was not popular with locals. In 1094, it was besieged and burned by Gruffydd ap Cynan, a Welsh prince who sought to claim his place as King of Gwynedd. Little is known of Castell Aberlleiniog after the 11th century. By 1646 it had fallen into the ownership of a roguish character called Thomas Cheadle. His many roles included land agent for the Bulkeley family, deputy constable of Beaumaris Castle, and pirate. In this time, it was refortified with a stone circuit wall. It saw action during the Civil War, when it served as a Parliamentary stronghold and played a part in a siege of Royalist forces at Beaumaris Castle. It then fell into disuse, and its walls became overgrown during the next three centuries. Then, 10 years ago, the estate’s owner formed a partnership with local enterprise agency Menter Môn to reopen the site. A new archaeological project was undertaken, the woodland paths improved and the stonework preserved. Since then, the castle has become popular with local people. It can be reached on foot from the car park at Lleiniog Beach, a mile and a half to the east, or from the village of Llangoed to the north-west. In spring, the surrounding woodland is filled with snowdrops and daffodils, with the scent of wild garlic in the air.