Pickering Castle

A sunny afternoon in a picturesque medieval ruin

Pickering Castle is perched above the North Yorkshire town that shares its name, with commanding views over the surrounding countryside. Liz and I visited it this week, and spent a pleasant couple of hours wandering round the ruins.

The castle was originally built around 1069, by William the Conqueror, after the north rose against him. In what has became known as ‘the harrying of the north’, William laid waste to large areas of northern England, and built castles to subdue the local population.

A 270 degree panoramic view from Pickering Castle.

The castle is what is known as a motte and bailey castle. The central keep, or strongpoint, is built on an earth mound, the motte, and surrounded by a wall. The original fortifications were built from wood, but the original castle was extended and replaced by stone walls and towers by the mid 1300’s.

The Motte, or mound, which housed the central keep of Pickering Castle

The castle has an interesting story. Used occasionally as a royal residence, the castle was also owned at times by the Dukes of Lancaster. It’s heyday was in the middle ages, and by the 1550’s the castle was gradually falling into disrepair.

Part of the fortifications at Pickering Castle

There is still a lot of the castle standing, so it’s well worth a visit. The site is run and managed by English Heritage.

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