Stockton Castle

Has been described as a Possible Masonry Castle, and also as a Possible Palace (Bishop), and also as a Certain Fortified Manor House

There are no visible remains

NameStockton Castle
Alternative Names
Historic CountryDurham
Modern AuthorityStockton on Tees
1974 AuthorityCleveland
Civil ParishStockton On Tees

Shopping centre and car park on site of irregular four sided enclosure with great ditches were remains of castle slighted 1652. Castle of the Bishop of Durham.

Stockton Castle was a manor house owned from at least the C12 by the Bishops of Durham. The site, known as Castle Field, was an irregular four sided area on the bank of the River Tees, defended on the S and W by a large ditch, which is now built over. The 'Castle' contained a chapel, two towers and a hall, which were in ruins by 1647 and destroyed in 1652 (VCH).

A section of wall in Castle Gate, NZ 4465 1874, 4.0m long by 1.2m high, is of old dressed stone with the remains of a plinth course visible. It is not possible to connect this wall definitely with the castle. No other remains which could be part of the castle or manor house were seen in the area. In view of Wood's plan it is probable that the description 'castle' was an early misnomer for a fortified manor house (F1 JHO 14-SEP-53).

The castle was excavated in 1965, however, owing to the heavy disturbance of the site and the limited time allowed for the dig, little was uncovered. Two drains were excavated, presumably of medieval date constructed of reused 12th century masonry. The robbed out foundations of a building were also uncovered. A layer containing 17th century pottery and evidence for burning probably represents the destruction of the castle after 1647 (Manby). (PastScape)

The Parliamentary Commissioners, reporting upon its state in 1647, wrote "that the bishop's castle situate at the south end of the town by the river Tease (sic) is ruinous and in great decay. . . . The castle hath had a great moat about it, but the same is now for want of cleaning filled up in part, and within that moat hath heretofore been orchards and gardens, but all destroyed. . . . There hath likewise been a park, but the same hath been disparked." The lands of the estate were sold, and the castle was completely dismantled


Gatehouse Comments

Not destroyed on the orders of Oliver Cromwell (or, more correctly, Parliament) as sometimes suggested but already ruinous when examined by the Parliamentary Commissioners. However, Parliament did order the works around the castle 'made since the troubles' should be slighted and dismantled and dis-garisoned.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceNZ446186
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink

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  • Salter, Mike, 2002, The Castles and Tower Houses of County Durham (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 57
  • Thompson, M.W., 1998, Medieval bishops' houses in England and Wales (Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing) p. 116, 175
  • Jackson, M.J., 1996, Castles of Durham and Cleveland (Carlisle) p. 56-8
  • Emery, Anthony, 1996, Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales Vol. 1 Northern England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) p. 51-4
  • Aberg, F.A. and Smith, A.N., 1988, 'Excavations on the Castle Site, Stockton-on-Tees' in Manby, T. (ed), Archaeology in Eastern Yorkshire: essays in honour of T C M Brewster p. 176-88
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 138
  • Hugill, Robert, 1979, The Castles and Towers of the County of Durham (Newcastle; Frank Graham) p. 93
  • Sowler, R., 1972, History of the Town and Borough of Stockton-on-Tees (Teesside Museums & Art Galleries Department)
  • Woodhouse, R., 1967, History of Stockton Castle
  • Page, Wm (ed), 1928, VCH Durham Vol. 3 p. 204, 353-54 online transcription
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
  • Niemeyer, N., 1911, 'Introductory Chapter' in Rait, R.S. (ed), English Episcopal Palaces (Province of York) (London; Constable & Co) p. 10 online copy
  • Gould, Chalkley, 1905, 'Ancient Earthworks' in Page, Wm (ed), VCH Durham Vol. 1 (London) p. 359 online copy
  • Mackenzie, J.D., 1896, Castles of England; their story and structure (New York: Macmillan) Vol. 2 p. 354 online copy
  • Boyle, J.R., 1892, Comprehensive Guide to the County of Durham: its Castles, Churches, and Manor-Houses (London) p. 625
  • Quail, 1888, in Wildridge, Northumbria (London) p. 60-9
  • Surtees, R., 1816-40 (1972 Reprint), The History and Antiquities of the County Palatine of Durham (London) Vol. 3 p. 170-2 online transcription
  • Brewster, 1829, Parish History of Stockton (Stockton) p. 16-60 (rather diffuse history)
  • Wood, J., 1826, Plan of Stockton online copy
  • Brayley, E. and Britton, J., 1803, Beauties of England and Wales; Durham Vol. 5 p. 103-4
  • Hutchinson, Wm, 1785-94, The History and Antiquities of the County Palatine of Durham Vol. 3 p. 146-7, 151-2 online copy


  • Chandler, John, 1993, John Leland's Itinerary: travels in Tudor England  (Sutton Publishing) p. 156
  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1910, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 5 p. 48 online copy


  • Raine, J. (the younger), 1876, 'Survey of the manor house of Stockton, commonly called Stockton castle, taken after the death of Bishop Pilkington' Archaeologia Aeliana (ser2) Vol. 7 p. 120-5 online copy

Guide Books

  • Robin Daniels, 2014, The Town of Stockton-on-Tees and its Building (Tees Archaeology) p. 6-7 online copy

Primary Sources

  • Austin, D. (ed), 1982, Boldon Book: Northumberland and Durham (Chichester: Phillimore Domesday 35) p. 54-55 (1183 reference)
  • Raine, J. (the younger), 1876, 'Survey of the manor house of Stockton, commonly called Stockton castle, taken after the death of Bishop Pilkington' Archaeologia Aeliana (ser2) Vol. 7 p. 120-5 online copy (Survey of 1574)


  • Payne, Naomi, 2003, The medieval residences of the bishops of Bath and Wells, and Salisbury (PhD Thesis University of Bristol) Appendix B: List of Medieval Bishop's Palaces in England and Wales (available via EThOS)
  • 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
  • Smith, Andrea, 1966, Excavations at Stockton Castle archive details