Pickering Castle

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Pickering Castle

North Riding

Pickering Castle
Type: Motte and Bailey castle
Grid reference: SE798844
Location: 54°14’60"N, 0°46’34"W
Village: Pickering
Condition: Ruinous
Owned by: English Heritage
Website: Pickering Castle

Pickering Castle is a mediæval motte-and-bailey castle in Pickering, in the North Riding of Yorkshire. It stands within the little town itself, overlooking the Pickering Beck.


Pickering Castle stands within the Vale of Pickering, above a steep cliff on its west side which provided a strong natural defence.

The first castle on the site was a timber and earth motte and bailey castle. It was later developed with a stone shell keep at some time between 1216 and 1236.

The current inner ward was originally the bailey and was built between 1180 and 1187. The chapel was built around the same time as the stone keep: the chapel has been demolished but there is a reconstruction of the chapel at the site.

Between the years 1323 and 1326 there was an outer ward and curtain wall built along with three towers. There were also two ditches, one situated outside of the curtain wall one in the outer ward. After this there was a gatehouse, ovens, hall and the storehouses built.


Pickering Castle in around 1910

The original structure was built by the Normans under William the Conqueror in 1069–1070. This early building included the large, central mound (the motte), the outer palisades (enclosing the bailey) and internal buildings, notably the keep on top of the motte. Ditches were also dug to make assault on the walls difficult. The main purpose of the castle at this time was to maintain control of the area after the brutal harrying of the North.

The castle's remains are particularly well-preserved because it is one of only a few castles which were largely unaffected by the Wars of the Roses and the Civil War of the 17th century.

The castle today

In 1926, the Ministry of Works (predecessor of English Heritage) took possession of the castle and it remains in the care of the latter.

It is a Scheduled Ancient Monument[1] and opened to the public. The castle forms a focus for Pickering, a centre for exploring the Vale of Pickering. The North Yorkshire Moors Railway passes under the shadow of the caslte's walls as it comes to its southern terminus

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Pickering Castle)


  1. National Heritage List 1009884: Pickering Castle