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Appleby Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Appleby in Westmorland; Ceasers Tower; Appelbi; Apelbi

In the civil parish of Appleby in Westmorland.
In the historic county of Westmorland.
Modern Authority of Cumbria.
1974 county of Cumbria.
Medieval County of Westmorland.

OS Map Grid Reference: NY68511993
Latitude 54.57354° Longitude -2.48792°

Appleby Castle has been described as a certain Timber Castle, and also as a certain Masonry Castle.

There are major building remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.
This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law*.


Royal castle. Originally a motte and bailey castle, replaced by a stone keep circa 1170 (Ceaser's Tower). A house was built within the grounds of the bailey probably in C14 which incorporated a C13 round tower and other remains of an earlier building. House part rebuilt in 1454 by Thomas de Clifford. Restored in 1651-3 with additions of 1686-88, and 1695. A Roman well indicates the site of a possible settlement. The castle walls are mainly of sandstone rubble with some ashlar. The castle earthworks consist of a deep ditch enclosing both the keep platform and the bailey. The interior has been levelled and altered at various times though the possible layout of the motte and bailey can still be detected. (PastScape)

Ceasers Tower-The Norman keep built to replace the motte and bailey castle that originally existed on the site. The keep was built circa 1170 and at the time of three storeys. The addition of one very tall storey without windows seems to have followed before the end of the century. The parapet and upstanding angle-turrets seem to be of late C13 or early C14 date. The tops of the turrets are of much later restoration. The keep was roofless in C17 but was restored by Lady Anne Clifford. During the 1651-1653 restoration the main cross-wall was inserted, it is substantial and bears the arms of Countess Clifford. The roof is probably C18. The C12 walling is of small squared ashlar and the angles have clasping buttresses which continued up to the angle turrets. (PastScape)

Main building of Appleby Castle. The house is an L-shaped block at the east end of the enclosure and is built of grey stone rubble with ashlar facing to C17 west front. The roofs are of slate and lead. The north wall and the west part of the north wing, including the round tower, are of C13 date and were incorporated into the house which was built in C14. The eastern part of the house was added in 1454. The building was partly demolished by the Parliamentary army in 1648 but was restored in 1651-3 by Lady Anne Clifford. The house was largely rebuilt in 1686 and the north west wing was added in 1695. In C19 the house was again restored and sash windows were inserted. (PastScape)

First or early Norman castle at Appleby thrown up by Ranulf de Meschines. It began as a mount-and-bailey of timbered earthwork, and its banks and ditches survive as one of the most impressive examples of Norman military engineering. Later the motte was cut down and on its truncated summit was built the fine stone tower. Whether this keep was in existence before the capture of Appleby in 1174 may be doubted. The squared-off eastern end of the bailey indicates that the hall was always here; at first it was doubtless of timber, but seems in late Norman times to have been replaced by a hall of stone, of which a considerable portion of the eastern or outer wall remains in the existing structure. The Norman hall and postern would seem to be older than the existing keep. Possibly an earlier keep was destroyed, in 1174. This C14 building is designed as a hall-house upon the traditional lines, with a central hall, chapel and great chamber. Considerable Norman ashlar work still surviving in the wall which encloses both mount and bailey shows that the replacing of the timber defences was completed before the end of tC12 The hemicylindrical towers were built in C13, one is still in an excellent state of preservation. The great Gatehouse on the west side of the modern entrance was built by Lord John Clifford before 1422. A massive fragment survives; it was probably destroyed in the Civil War. Lord Thomas Clifford's reconstruction of the east range in 1454 is still recognisable. In the SE tower C15 work seems to include everything above the 2nd floor. The castle is described by Leland as ruinous in 1539, and in 1651-3 the castle was restored by the Countess of Pembroke. Of her work we may still indentify the mid-wall in the keep, the 4 turret heads thereon, the former brew-house range west of the entrance, extensive rebuilding of the Norman curtain, the remarkable steading in the western bailey, and the bee-house to the north. Between 1686 and 1688 the 4th Earl of Thanet built the existing eastern range embodying the shell of its md. predecessor, and it would seem that the wing extending westward from this work to C13 drum tower was added in 1695. (PastScape–ref. W Douglas Simpson, 1949)

One of the principle border fortresses, Appleby Castle came into royal hands in 1157 following the surrender by King Malcolm. It was granted to Hugh de Morville, and later to the Cliffords who carried out much of the later building work. (HKW)
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:29

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