Appleby Castle

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Motte Ringwork), and also as a Certain Masonry Castle

There are major building remains

NameAppleby Castle
Alternative NamesAppleby in Westmorland; Ceasers Tower; Appelbi; Apelbi
Historic CountryWestmorland
Modern AuthorityCumbria
1974 AuthorityCumbria
Civil ParishAppleby in Westmorland

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)

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law

Historic England Scheduled Monument Number
Historic England Listed Building number(s)
Images Of England
Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceNY685199
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Photo by Philip Davis. All Rights Reserved

() above

Latitude 54° 34' 25.1" Longitude -2° 29' 18.58"

View full Sized Image
Photo by Philip Davis. All Rights Reserved

() above

Latitude 54° 34' 25.1" Longitude -2° 29' 18.58"

View full Sized Image
Photo by Philip Davis. All Rights Reserved

() above

Latitude 54° 34' 25.1" Longitude -2° 29' 18.58"

View full Sized Image

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  • Grimsditch, Brian, Nevell, Michael and Nevell, Richard, 2012, Buckton Castle and the Castles of the North West England (University of Salford Archaeological Monograph 2) p. 101
  • Goodall, John, 2011, The English Castle 1066-1650 (Yale University Press) p. 135-8, 244, 481
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  • Salter, Mike, 1998, The Castles and Tower Houses of Cumbria (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 12-14
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  • RCHME, 1936, An inventory of the historical monuments in Westmorland (HMSO) p. 7-13 no. 3 plan ([plan keep >] [plan castle >]) [online transcription >]
  • Curwen, J.F., 1932, 'Parishes (East Ward): St Lawrence, Appleby' The Later Records relating to North Westmorland: or the Barony of Appleby (Kendal: CWAAS Record Series 8) online transcription
  • Curwen, J.F., 1913, Castles and Fortified Towers of Cumberland, Westmorland and Lancashire North of the Sands (Kendal: CWAAS Extra Series 13) p. 66-7, 75-80, 454
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
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  • Turner, T.H. and Parker, J.H., 1859, Some account of Domestic Architecture in England (Oxford) Vol. 3 Part 2 p. 208 online copy
  • Buck, Samuel and Nathaniel, 1774, Buck's Antiquities (London) Vol. 2 p. 307


  • Camden, Wm, 1607, Britannia hypertext critical edition by Dana F. Sutton (2004)
  • Chandler, John, 1993, John Leland's Itinerary: travels in Tudor England  (Sutton Publishing) p. 483
  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1910, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 5 p. 47 online copy
  • Clifford, J.J.H. (ed), 1990, Diaries of Lady Anne Clifford (Stroud)


  • Guy, Neil, 2011-12, 'The Rise of the Anti-clockwise Newel Stair' Castle Studies Group Journal Vol. 25 p. 113-174 online copy
  • King, D.J.C. and Alcock, L., 1969, 'Ringworks in England and Wales' Château Gaillard Vol. 3 p. 90-127
  • Brown, R. Allen, 1959, 'A List of Castles, 1154–1216' English Historical Review Vol. 74 p. 249-280 (Reprinted in Brown, R. Allen, 1989, Castles, conquest and charters: collected papers (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 90-121) view online copy (subscription required)
  • Simms, R.S., 1958, 'Appleby Castle' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 115 p. 239 (slight) online copy
  • Simpson, W. Douglas, 1949, 'The town and castle of Appleby: a morphological study' Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Vol. 49 p. 118-33 online copy
  • Oswald, 1940, Country Life Vol. 87 p. 382-6,408-12
  • Ferguson, 1886, 'The Earthworks and Keep, Appleby Castle' Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Vol. 8 p. 382-95 online copy
  • Simpson, 1866-73, 'Appleby Castle' Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Vol. 1 p. 242-54 (history) online copy

Guide Books

  • Holmes, 1974, Appleby Castle (Appleby)

Primary Sources

  • 1904, The Great Roll of the Pipe for the twenty-second year of the reign of king Henry II A.D 1174-5 (Pipe Rolls Society 25) p. 119 online copy
  • Howlett, R. (ed), 1886, Chronicles of the Reigns of Stephen, Henry II., and Richard I. (London: Rolls Series) Vol. 3 p. 326 online copy
  • Stubbs, Wm. (ed), 1867, Gesta Regis Henrici Secundi Benedicti Abbatis; Chronicle of the Reigns of Henry II and Richard I. A.D. 1169-1192 (London: Rolls Series 49) Vol. 1 p. 65 online copy
  • Michel, F. (ed), 1840, Chronicle of the War Between the English and the Scots in 1173 and 1174 by Jordan Fantosme (London: Surtees Society 11) p. 66-69 online copy
  • Farrer, W. (ed), 1902, The Lancashire Pipe Rolls (Liverpool: Henry Young and Sons) p. 33, 99, 102, 390 online copy
  • Rickard, John, 2002, The Castle Community. The Personnel of English and Welsh Castles, 1272-1422 (Boydell Press) (lists sources for 1272-1422) p. 458-9


  • Historic England, 2016, Heritage at Risk North West Register 2016 (London: Historic England) p. 18 online copy
  • Historic England, 2015, Heritage at Risk North West Register 2015 (London: Historic England) p. 20 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2014, Heritage at Risk Register 2014 North West (London: English Heritage) p. 21 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2013, Heritage at Risk Register 2013 North West (London: English Heritage) p. 21 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2012, Heritage at Risk Register 2012 North West (London: English Heritage) p. 35 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2011, Heritage at Risk Register 2011 North West (London: English Heritage) p. 33 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2010, Heritage at Risk Register 2010 North West (London: English Heritage) p. 31 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2009, Heritage at Risk Register 2009 North West (London: English Heritage) p. 39 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2006, Extensive Urban Survey - Cumbria (Cumbria County Council) Download copy
  • Constable, Christopher, 2003, Aspects of the archaeology of the castle in the north of England C 1066-1216 (Doctoral thesis, Durham University) Available at Durham E-Theses Online