Clitheroe Castle

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Clitheroe Castle
Clitheroe Castle.JPG
Clitheroe Castle August 2007
Location Clitheroe, Lancashire
Coordinates 53°52′15″N 2°23′35″W / 53.8709°N 2.3931°W / 53.8709; -2.3931Coordinates: 53°52′15″N 2°23′35″W / 53.8709°N 2.3931°W / 53.8709; -2.3931
OS grid reference SD 742416
Designated 10 April 1915 [1]
Listed Building – Grade I
Designated 19 May 1950[2]
Reference no. 1071553
Clitheroe Castle is located in the Borough of Ribble Valley
Clitheroe Castle
Location of Clitheroe Castle in the Borough of Ribble Valley
The keep and surviving inner wall
Later additions viewed from the wall

Clitheroe Castle is located in Clitheroe, Lancashire, England.


The medieval enclosure castle is located in Clitheroe, Lancashire.[1] It is a motte-and-bailey castle built on a natural carboniferous limestone outcrop.[citation needed]

It has been suggested that Clitheroe Castle may have been first built before 1086 as there is reference to the "castellatu Rogerii pictaviensis" in the Domesday Book. However, it is likely the passage refers to another castle.[3] One alternative is that it was built around 1186 by Robert de Lacy as an administrative centre for his estates in the area but later passed by inheritance to the Crown.[citation needed] It contains the second smallest stone keep in England.[1] At one time it was surrounded by a curtain wall. It was anciently the seat of the Lords of Bowland.[citation needed]

A document from 1304 mentions ditches and moats surrounding the castle, however these have since been filled in.[4]

There is a legend that the Devil threw a boulder from Pendle Hill and hit the castle creating the hole visible in its side today, but this hole was made in 1649 as ordered by the government. It was to be put in "such condition that in might neither be a charge to the Commonwealth to keep it, nor a danger to have it kept against them".[1]

The medieval castle keep and some of the curtain wall remain above ground, and sub-surface remains of the castle gateway survive. Remains of the medieval buildings in the bailey have not survived, although sub-surface remains of other buildings, including the Chapel of St Michael de Castro dating from the 12th century, have survived.[1]

The castle was listed an a Scheduled Monument on 10 April 1915 (and later, under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 law). It is one of 126 recorded examples of an enclosure castle in England (with no two being alike).[1] It was Grade I listed on 19 May 1950.[2] The keep was restored in 2009. It is located within 16 acres of parkland.[5]


Clitheroe Castle Museum can be found in the Steward's House built in the 18th century. It is a museum of local history.[citation needed]

The Clitheroe Castle Museum underwent a £3.5-million refurbishment and redevelopment[6] starting in 2007;[citation needed] it re-opened on 23 May 2009.[5] It was named as a "Quality Assured Visitor Attraction" by VisitEngland in November 2009. The museum complex is owned by Ribble Valley Borough Council and operated by the Museum Service of Lancashire County Council.[6] The museum is now located in the bailey,[citation needed] and It charges for admission,[6] while the castle is freely open to the public.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


Further reading[edit]

  • Adams, Paul (2005-6), 'Clitheroe Castle', Castle Studies Group Journal, Vol 19 p179–192
  • Edwards, B. J. N. (1984), "George Vertue’s engraving of Clitheroe Castle", Antiquaries Journal 64: 366–372, doi:10.1017/s0003581500080501 
  • Farrer, William; Brownbill, J. (eds) (1911), "Townships: Clitheroe", A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 6, pp. 360–372 
  • Farrer and Brownbill, The Victoria history of the county of Lancaster Vol 2 (1908) pp. 523–524
  • Fry, Plantagenet Somerset (1980), The David & Charles Book of Castles, David & Charles, ISBN 0-7153-7976-3
  • Gooderson, P.J. (1980), A History of Lancashire, Batsford, ISBN 0-7134-2588-1
  • Harfield, C. G. (1991), "A Hand-list of Castles Recorded in the Domesday Book", English Historical Review 106: 371–392, doi:10.1093/ehr/CVI.CCCCXIX.371, JSTOR 573107 
  • Jones, R.O. (1982), Clitheroe Castle
  • Langshaw, A. (1940), A Guide to Clitheroe Castle