Rothwell Castle

Has been described as a Possible Timber Castle (Motte Other/Unknown), and also as a Possible Masonry Castle, and also as a Certain Fortified Manor House

There are masonry footings remains

NameRothwell Castle
Alternative Names
Historic CountryYorkshire
Modern AuthorityLeeds
1974 AuthorityWest Yorkshire
Civil ParishRothwell

A small castle or fortified manor house built by Ilbert de Lacy (11th century). Fragments of walling remain (Batty: Pevsner). Only a weathered and irregular column of rubble masonry, apparently the remains of a newel stairway, survive. A large amount of building debris is visible in the ploughed land surrounding it but no ground plan can be deduced. These are no earthworks associated with the structure (Field Investigators Comments–F1 RL 21-NOV-63). There was a substantial stone-built, manor-house at Rothwell in 1341, which served as the principle administrative centre for the northern half of the honour of Pontefract, but this was recorded as ruinous in 1485. In 1487 it was leased by Henry VII to Roger Hopton on condition that he erect a hall and parlour with chamber and kitchen; a single bay of this later, timber-framed house was dismantled by West Yorks County Arch. Unit in 1977 (Faull and Moorhouse). (PastScape)

Gatehouse Comments

Hunting lodge of honour of Pontefract. Used by King John in 1212 and Edward II in 1319 and 1323. Probably built on site of 'hall' of Harold, an Anglo-Scandinavian thegn. The Rothwell and District Historical Society states a small motte was constructed here, which is entirely possibly, but it is not clear what their evidence is for this suggestion. There is a tendency for some authors to think all Norman castles had mottes although at least a quarter did not. King made no reference to such a structure and only considered this a possible castle site (generally King's 'possible' is closer to the Gatehouse 'doubtful' category). Certainly a C13/C14 fortified manor house, likely to be a C11/C12 timber castle.

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSE342282
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink

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  • Rothwell and District Historical Society, 2006, The History of Rothwell Castle and medieval life (Leeds RDHS Press)
  • Wrathmell, S. (ed), 2003, Rothwell: The Medieval Manor and Manorial Mills (Archaeological Services (WYAS) Publications 3)
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 531 (possible)
  • Faull, M.L. and Moorhouse, S.A. (eds), 1981, West Yorkshire: an archaeological survey to A.D. 1500 Vol. 2 p. 488
  • Pevsner, N., 1959, Buildings of England: Yorkshire: West Riding (London, Penguin) p. 423
  • Batty, J., 1877, History of Rothwell p. 43, 118


  • Moorhouse, Stephen, 2006, 'Building in the Medieval Landscape' Yorkshire Buildings The Journal of the Yorkshire Vernacular Buildings Study Group Vol. 34 p. 42-
  • Wheldrake, Dave, 2003, 'Fieldwork at Rothwell Castle' Archaeology and Archives in West Yorkshire Vol. 17 online copy
  • 1978, 'Medieval Britain and Ireland in 1977' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 22 p. 184 online copy

Guide Books

  • Rothwell and District Historical Society, nd (c. 2006), Rothwell Castle Project online copy


  • Historic England, 2016, Heritage at Risk Yorkshire Register 2016 (London: Historic England) p. 92 online copy
  • Historic England, 2015, Heritage at Risk Yorkshire Register 2015 (London: Historic England) p. 101 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2014, Heritage at Risk Register 2014 Yorkshire (London: English Heritage) p. 113 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2013, Heritage at Risk Register 2013 Yorkshire (London: English Heritage) p. 115 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2012, Heritage at Risk Register 2012 Yorkshire and the Humber (London: English Heritage) p. 135 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2011, Heritage at Risk Register 2011 Yorkshire and the Humber (London: English Heritage) p. 125 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2010, Heritage at Risk Register 2010 Yorkshire and the Humber (London: English Heritage) p. 126 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2009, Heritage at Risk Register 2009 Yorkshire and the Humber (London: English Heritage) p. 133 online copy
  • Creighton, O.H., 1998, Castles and Landscapes: An Archaeological Survey of Yorkshire and the East Midlands (PhD Thesis University of Leicester) p. 770-1 online copy