Dacre Castle

Has been described as a Certain Tower House

There are major building remains

NameDacre Castle
Alternative NamesDacker; Daker; Dacor
Historic CountryCumberland
Modern AuthorityCumbria
1974 AuthorityCumbria
Civil ParishDacre

The moated site at Dacre Castle survives reasonably well, its earthworks in particular remaining well preserved. The waterlogged parts of the moat will preserve organic material. Additionally information about the relationship between the moated site and the castle will be preserved.

The monument includes the outer banks, moat and moated island upon which Dacre Castle stands. It is located in the village of Dacre on a spur of high ground between Dacre Beck to the south and a small ravine to the north. The sub-rectangular island measures approximately 73m by 55m and contains Dacre Castle on its eastern side. The island is surrounded on all sides except the east by a partly waterlogged moat measuring 9m-15m wide by up to 4.5m deep. On the west and south sides an earthen bank up to 9m wide by 1m high flanks the outside of the moat, and on the south west and south sides there is a second and parallel outer bank of similar size with a dry ditch separating the two banks.

Dacre Castle was built soon after the licence to crenellate was granted to William de Dacre in 1307. It has been suggested that the castle was constructed within an earlier moated site, but this has not been confirmed and the surrounding moat may be contemporary with the castle. Documentary sources of 1354 indicate that Margaret de Dacre, daughter-in-law of William de Dacre, lived in the castle. Documentary sources also indicate that the East Tower was built at some time before 1485 by Humphrey de Dacre. By the latter half of the 17th century the castle was derelict, but soon after Thomas Lennard, Earl of Sussex, undertook extensive repairs to make it habitable. A engraving by Buck in 1739 depicts vegetation on the castle roof and the outworks demolished, suggesting the castle may again have become run down. This view is enhanced by Gilpin who, in 1786, depicts the castle as a roofless ruin

Three years later Clarke describes it as 'an old tower, though pretty entire.' Alterations and improvements were made during the 19th and 20th centuries. (Scheduling Report)

Fortified tower house. C14 with C17 and C19 alterations. Extremely thick walls of dressed mixed sandstone with offsets, on chamfered plinth, the roof hidden by battlemented parapets. 2-storey rectangular tower over vaulted basement, with angle turrets. Entrance facade has off-centre doorway with stone surround, up L-shaped stone steps. Central C17 coat-of-arms of Earl of Sussex. Irregular fenestration of large C17 cross-mullioned windows, the turrets with smaller loops and 2-light windows. The right and rear left turrets are larger and square, compared with smaller opposing 45° turrets; the rear larger turret being the original entrance point with newel staircase. The interior has many original features such as fireplaces, oven recess, mural chambers and garderobes. (Listed Building Report)

Gatehouse Comments

Probably built in the mid C14 to replace an earlier building. It is sometimes, erroneously suggested the building was licenced in 1307. This licence was for for Dunmallogt not Dacre (see the 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 ReferenceNY460264
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

Most of the sites or buildings recorded in this web site are NOT open to the public and permission to visit a site must always be sought from the landowner or tenant.

Calculate Print


  • Salter, Mike, 1998, The Castles and Tower Houses of Cumbria (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 45
  • Perriam, Denis and Robinson, John, 1998, The Medieval Fortified Buildings of Cumbria (Kendal: CWAAS Extra Series 29) p. 182-3 (plan)
  • Emery, Anthony, 1996, Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales Vol. 1 Northern England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) p. 204
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 40
  • Jackson, M.J.,1990, Castles of Cumbria (Carlisle: Carel Press) p. 51-2 (plan)
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 84
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 217
  • Hugill, Robert, 1977, Castles and Peles of Cumberland and Westmorland (Newcastle; Frank Graham) p. 77-80
  • Kinsman, Bunty, 1971, Pawn Takes Castle (Oriel Press) (on restoration)
  • Pevsner, Nikolaus, 1967, Buildings of England: Cumberland and Westmorland (Harmondsworth) p. 117
  • Curwen, J.F., 1913, Castles and Fortified Towers of Cumberland, Westmorland and Lancashire North of the Sands (Kendal: CWAAS Extra Series 13) p. 191, 269-72
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
  • Mackenzie, J.D., 1896, Castles of England; their story and structure (New York: Macmillan) Vol. 2 p. 308-10 online copy
  • Taylor, M.W., 1892, Old Manorial Halls of Westmorland and Cumberland (Kendal: CWAAS Extra Series 8) p. 278-286 online copy
  • Turner, T.H. and Parker, J.H., 1853, Some account of Domestic Architecture in England (Oxford) Vol. 2 p. 213-6 online copy
  • Jefferson, S., 1840, History and Antiquities of Leith Ward in the county of Cumberland p. 176-81
  • Lysons, Daniel and Samuel, 1816, 'Antiquities: Castles' Magna Britannia Vol. 4: Cumberland p. ccii-ccvi online transcription
  • Britton, J. and Brayley, E.W., 1803, The Beauties of England; Topographical, Historical and Descriptive Delineation of Cumberland (London) p. 160- online copy
  • Gilpin, Wm, 1786, Observations, relative chiefly to picturesque beauty, made in the year 1772, on several parts of England; particularly the mountains, and lakes of Cumberland, and Westmoreland Vol. 2 p. 84 (mention as ruin) online transcription and [print > http://www.geog.port.ac.uk/webmap/thelakes/html/lgaz/pr0458.htm]
  • Hutchinson, Wm., 1794, The history of the county of Cumberland Vol. 1 p. 467-74 view online copy
  • Clarke, J., 1787, A Survey of the lakes of Cumberland, Westmoreland and Lancashire p. 23 online transcription
  • Buck, Samuel and Nathaniel, 1774, Buck's Antiquities (London) Vol. 1 p. 39



  • 1983, 'Medieval Britain and Ireland in 1982' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 27 p. 172 online copy
  • Leech, R.H., 1982, 'Dacre Castle' 129th Annual Meeting, Cumbria and Lake District 1982, CAA p. 28
  • Hasel, 1958, 'Dacre Castle' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 115 p. 251 (slight) online copy
  • 1947, 'Proceedings' Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Vol. 47 p. 226-7 online copy
  • Oswald, 1929, Country Life Vol. 65 p. 480-6
  • Taylor, M.W., 1866-73, 'Dacre Castle' Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Vol. 1 p. 140-7 online copy

Guide Books

  • Stretton, E.H.A., 1994, Dacre Castle (Penrith)

Primary Sources


  • Todd, H., n.d. (early C18), History of the Bishopric of Carlisle (St Edmund's Hall MS 7/2, Bodleian Library)