Lancaster Castle

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Lancaster Castle is a medieval castle, a Crown Court, and a Category C men's prison, located in Lancaster in the English county of Lancashire. The castle buildings are owned by Lancashire County Council, which leases a major part of the structure to Her Majesty's Prison Service. The site itself is owned by the Duchy of Lancaster.



In 79 AD, a Roman fort was built at Lancaster on a hill commanding a crossing over the River Lune.[1][2] Little is known about Lancaster between the end of the Roman occupation of England in the early 5th century and the Norman Conquest in the late 11th century. The layout of the town was influenced by the Roman fort and the associated civilian settlement; the main road through the town was the route that led east from the fort.[3] After the Norman Conquest in the second half of the 11th century, Lancaster was part of the Earldom of Northumbria; it was claimed by the kings of England and Scotland. In 1092, William II established a permanent border with Scotland further north by capturing Carlisle. It is generally thought that Lancaster Castle was founded in the 1090s, on the site of the Roman fort in a strategic location.[2] The castle is the oldest standing building in Lancaster, and one of the most important. The history of the structure is uncertain; this is partly due to its continued use as a prison, which prevents extensive archaeological investigation.[4]


As there are no contemporary documents recording the foundation of the castle, it is uncertain when and by whom it was started. Despite this, it has long been supposed that Roger de Poitou was responsible; he was the Norman in control of the Honour of Lancaster. If it was Roger who began the construction of the castle, it would have been a timber, probably incorporating the earthworks of the Roman fort into its defences. The form of the original castle is unknown. There is no trace of a motte, so it may have been a ringwork[6] – a circular defended enclosure.[7]

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