Wakefield Castle

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Wakefield Castle
Thornes Park, Wakefield, West Yorkshire
Earthwork and motte Lowe Hill.JPG
Grass covered earthwork and tree covered motte at Lowe Hill
Wakefield Castle is located in West Yorkshire
Wakefield Castle
Wakefield Castle
Coordinates53°40′21″N 1°30′26″W / 53.672623°N 1.507191°W / 53.672623; -1.507191Coordinates: 53°40′21″N 1°30′26″W / 53.672623°N 1.507191°W / 53.672623; -1.507191
grid reference SE32651968
Site information
OwnerCity of Wakefield MDC

Wakefield Castle, Lowe Hill or Lawe Hill was a castle built in the 12th century on a hill on the north side of the River Calder near Wakefield, England. Its name derives from the Anglo Saxon hlaew meaning a mound or cairn, possibly a burial mound or barrow.[1][2] The mound, situated a quarter mile from the river, was separated from the town by flat swampy land and was seen as a good site for a fortification.

William de Warenne, 3rd Earl of Surrey probably started to build the castle, an earthwork motte and bailey structure.[1] A ditch, six feet deep and forty feet wide was dug and the spoil used to construct a mound or motte about forty feet high with a flat top about fifty feet in diameter. The castle had two baileys further fortified by timber palisades and these were occupied by stables, workshops and sleeping quarters for the soldiers.[3][4]

Wakefield Castle and neighbouring Sandal Castle were granted to Thomas, Earl of Lancaster in 1318 and in 1324 King Edward II committed them to the care of Richard Moseley.[3] At what time the castle was destroyed is not known but a great gale in 1330 which caused much damage in Wakefield may have been the cause. Excavations in 1953 indicated that the castle was probably an adulterine castle, built without permission, and abandoned unfinished.[4][5]

In July 1558 a beacon was lit on Lowe Hill to warn the population that the Spanish Armada had been sighted off The Lizard in Cornwall.[6]

Little remains of the castle, a Scheduled Ancient Monument, which is situated in Thornes Park, other than the motte which is covered in trees.[4]



  1. ^ a b Walker 1966, p. 47
  2. ^ Mills 1998, p. 404
  3. ^ a b Walker 1966, p. 48
  4. ^ a b c Historic England, "Lowe Hill (52514)", PastScape, retrieved 2010-03-25
  5. ^ 1066-1600, Wakefield Council, retrieved 2010-03-25
  6. ^ Walker 1966, p. 414


  • Mills, A. D. (1998), Dictionary of English Place-Names, Oxford, ISBN 0-19-280074-4
  • Walker, J.W. (1966), Wakefield its History and People Vol.1&2 3rd Edn, S.R. Publishers

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