Kendal Castle Howe

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Motte)

There are earthwork remains

NameKendal Castle Howe
Alternative NamesCastle How; Castle Law; Castle how-hill; Castle Low Hill
Historic CountryWestmorland
Modern AuthorityCumbria
1974 AuthorityCumbria
Civil ParishKendal

Earthwork remains of a motte and bailey castle, precursor to Kendal, built in c. 1092. The flat topped motte is 11m high, which measures circa 18m in diameter at the summit and circa 46m in diameter at the base. The triangular bailey is situated to the east and has been virtually destroyed by the making of a public park. (PastScape)

Castle Howe (Plate 1), motte and bailey earthwork on the W. of the town, 550 yards N.W. of the church. The work comprises a tongue or spur of the hillside and encloses an area of about 2¾ acres. The motte is about 50 yards in diameter at the base and about 37 ft. in height but rising 47 ft. above the level of the bailey, which lies to the E. of the motte. The whole earthwork has been much altered and damaged by the construction of foot-paths, levelling and other operations and little can now be said as to its original form.

Condition—Poor. (RCHME 1936)

Despite landscaping of the bailey to create a public park, Castle Howe motte and bailey survives reasonably well. It is of particular importance as being one of a group of early post Conquest (late 11th century) motte and baileys established along the river valleys of north west England. These sites were all of strategic importance allowing control of movement along the river valley. More importantly, however, was their role in imposing and demonstrating the new post Conquest feudal order on the area.

The monument includes Castle Howe motte and bailey castle in Kendal. The site is strategically situated on a hillside spur overlooking the Kent valley and the town of Kendal, and includes a round flat-topped motte 11m high which measures c.18m in diameter across the summit and approximately 46m in diameter at the base

It is surrounded on the north and south sides by a ditch up to 7m wide by 1.5m deep which has been cut across a tongue of limestone bedrock. Some of the upcast from this ditch has been used to form a rampart or bank up to 5m wide and 1m high on the outside of the ditch to the north of the motte. To the east of the motte there is a triangular bailey, known locally as 'Battle Place', which is protected by steep natural slopes on the east and south sides. The motte and bailey was constructed in the latter years of the 11th century for the barony of Kendal and was occupied by Ketel, son of Eldred, in 1092. The summit of the motte was surrounded by a breastwork, traces of which have now disappeared above ground level. As additional protection for the bailey a terrace was cut some 12m below the level on the steep slope to the east. This terrace has now become a road called Garth Head. The motte and bailey was probably abandoned about 1184 when a stone castle was built on the opposite side of the valley. (Scheduling Report)

Kendal Castle, to the East of the earthworks, was probably built whilst Castle Howe was still being used. There's no evidence to suggest that Castle Howe was directly replaced by the new castle the other side of the river. If anything, there's every possibility that Castle Howe was the baronial centre of Kirkland, and that Kendal castle was the baronial centre of Kentdale. (Matthew Emmott 2006)

Gatehouse Comments

Accounts of possible builders and ownership vary across sources. Although it has often be stated this was a precursor site to Kendal Castl, as Matthew Emmott states, it was likely to have been the castle of separate lordship with both castles occupied at the same time. Kendal Castle, which was originally a ringwork, may have been the earlier.

- 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 ReferenceSD512923
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Photograph by Matthew Emmott. All rights reserved
Photograph by Matthew Emmott. All rights reserved
Photograph by Matthew Emmott. All rights reserved
Photograph by Matthew Emmott. All rights reserved
Photograph by Matthew Emmott. All rights reserved
Photograph by Matthew Emmott. All rights reserved
Photograph by Matthew Emmott. All rights reserved

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