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Kendal Castle and associated earthworks, and earlier ringwork

List Entry Summary

This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Name: Kendal Castle and associated earthworks, and earlier ringwork

List entry Number: 1008901

Location

The monument may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Cumbria

District: South Lakeland

District Type: District Authority

Parish: Kendal

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 30-Aug-1922

Date of most recent amendment: 23-Sep-1994

Legacy System Information

The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 23704

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Monument

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

An enclosure castle is a defended residence or stronghold, built mainly of stone, in which the principal or sole defence comprises the walls and towers bounding the site. Some form of keep may have stood within the enclosure but this was not significant in defensive terms and served mainly to provide accommodation. Larger sites might have more than one line of walling and there are normally mural towers and gatehouses. Outside the walls a ditch, either waterfilled or dry, crossed by bridges may be found. The first enclosure castles were constructed at the time of the Norman Conquest. However, they developed considerably in form during the 12th century when defensive experience gained during the Crusades was applied to their design. The majority of examples were constructed in the 13th century although a few were built as late as the 14th century. Some represent reconstructions of earlier medieval earthwork castles of the motte and bailey type, although others were new creations. They provided strongly defended residences for the king or leading families and occur in both urban and rural situations. Enclosure castles are widely dispersed throughout England, with a slight concentration in Kent and Sussex supporting a vulnerable coast, and a strong concentration along the Welsh border where some of the best examples were built under Edward I. They are rare nationally with only 126 recorded examples. Considerable diversity of form is exhibited with no two examples being exactly alike. With other castle types, they are major medieval monument types which, belonging to the highest levels of society, frequently acted as major administrative centres and formed the foci for developing settlement patterns. Castles generally provide an emotive and evocative link to the past and can provide a valuable educational resource, both with respect to medieval warfare and defence and with respect to wider aspects of medieval society. All examples retaining significant remains of medieval date are considered to be nationally important.

Ringworks are medieval fortifications built and occupied from the late Anglo-Saxon period to the later 12th century. They comprise a small defended area containing buildings which was surrounded by a substantial ditch and a bank surmounted by a timber palisade. Occasionally a more lightly defended embanked enclosure, the bailey, adjoined the ringwork. Ringworks acted as strongholds for military operations and in some cases as defended aristocratic or manorial settlements. They are rare nationally with only 200 recorded examples and less than 60 with baileys. As one of a limited number and very restricted range of Anglo-Saxon and Norman fortifications, ringworks are of particular significance to our understanding of the period. Despite appearing somewhat ruinous, Kendal Castle still retains significant remains of upstanding medieval fabric and is a rare example in Cumbria of an enclosure castle which developed on the site of an earlier ringwork, the earthworks of which survive well.

History

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Details

The monument includes the 13th century Kendal Castle, together with the late 12th century ringwork upon which it was constructed, and a group of associated earthworks to the north. It is strategically situated on the summit of a large glacial moraine in the Kent valley overlooking the town of Kendal. The earliest features of the site are the impressive earthworks of the ringwork. These include a virtually circular enclosure measuring approximately 76m in diameter which is surrounded by a ditch c.26m wide and c.3m deep. Flanking the ditch is an outer bank 10m-19m wide and up to 3m high. This ringwork would have had a timber palisade around the perimeter of the enclosure and a timber bridge or drawbridge at the north of the perimeter, giving access across the ditch into the enclosure. Within the enclosure there would have been timber buildings. To the north of the enclosure and surrounding ditch there is a rectangular enclosure measuring approximately 50m by 30m that is flanked on its west and part of its north side by a ditch up to 15m wide and 1m deep. Adjacent to this ditch there is an outer bank 5m wide and 0.5m high. This enclosured would have functioned as the outer court or bailey of the ringwork and would have been occupied by further buildings, perhaps including wattle and daub huts and pens for stock. The bailey would have been defended by a wooden palisade and would also have contained the barbican or outwork defending the entrance. To the north of the ditched bailey are further earthworks including a rectangular platform and two rectangular pits. The main access causeway to the ringwork runs through these earthworks and across the bailey. The ruins of the later castle include fragments of curtain wall, four towers, and internal buildings constructed upon the site of the ringwork. The castle was entered through a now demolished gatehouse on the north side which is depicted as being flanked by two towers on an antiquarian sketch. The curtain wall stands to a maximum height of c.2.4m and survives at its best along the south side of the enclosure. It would originally have been topped with a rampart walkway. To the east of the original entrance is the main living accommodation, or hall, with a tower attached to its eastern corner. The hall was of two storeys and the north and east walls still stand some 10m high. Beneath the eastern part of the hall are two storage cellars roofed with barrel vaults, and projecting from the south wall are fragments of a small polygonal bay or room. The north wall of the hall has the remains of three windows, a recess flanking what was a fourth window, and part of the segmental arch of a large fireplace. The east wall has two window openings. Adjoining the hall on the east was another room, of which part of the south wall can be seen. At the north east angle of the hall the rhomboidal north tower, originally with three floors, projects from the face of the curtain wall to a height of 6m. Its main floor has small narrow windows in the north west and south east walls. On the floor above is a fireplace and remains of a window. A survey of the castle in 1572, by which time it was already in ruins, describes the main buildings as containing a hall with an ascent of stairs, a buttery, a pantry, one great chamber, two or three lesser chambers, and two or three small rows of cellars. In a fragment of the curtain wall between the north and south towers there is a recess indicating the site of an adjoining building of which nothing now remains above ground. Nearby is a well 1m in diameter and capped off at a depth of 0.5m. The south tower stands up to 3m high but has been considerably repaired in the 20th century. It is thought to have originally been a square structure. Adjoining it on the east are the slight remains of a building of uncertain form. The west tower is a solid semicircular projection on the outside face of the curtain wall. Between it and the north west tower is a window embrasure or recess in the curtain wall. The north west tower is cylindrical and originally of three storeys but the uppermost has been destroyed. The lower storey has a rough stone vault and is entered by a square headed doorway with a small narrow window adjacent. The upper storey is entered by a doorway on the north from the rampart walk of the curtain wall; it has a fireplace, window, and a spiral staircase which led to the floor above. A garderobe is located off this staircase. North of this tower is part of the end wall of a building formerly standing against the curtain wall. The ringwork was constructed c.1184, probably by Gilbert, the son of Roger Fitz Reinfred, and succeeded Castle How motte and bailey on the opposite side of the Kent valley. The earliest masonry of the stone castle is of 13th century date. The monument's early occupants were the barons of Kendal but in 1215 the castle was forfeited to King John after the rebellion of the barons. In 1241 it was owned by William de Lancaster III after which it was owned by the de Brus family then the de Roos or Ross family and then the Parr family. In 1509 Katherine Parr, sixth wife of Henry VIII was born here. By 1566 the castle had become property of the Crown on the attainder of the last of the Parrs, William Marquis of Northampton, for treason in supporting Lady Jane Grey. From this date on, it ceased to be occupied and was allowed to fall into ruin. Limited excavation in the vicinity of the gateway during the 1950s and 1960s located evidence for the bank of the original ringwork, two phases of curtain wall construction, a cobbled entrance through the gateway and traces of a bridge abutment. A number of features are excluded from the scheduling; these include the floodlights surrounding the castle, a modern iron beacon and its concrete setting to the north of the curtain wall, an information plaque and its stone setting also to the north of the curtain wall, a flight of stone steps on the monument's west side, and all wooden fences; the ground beneath all these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Machell, , Machell MSS137
Curwen, J E, 'Trans Cumb & West Antiq & Arch Soc. Extra Series' in Castles And Towers of Cumberland And Westmorland, , Vol. 13, (1913), 145-9
Ferguson, R S , 'Trans Cumb & West Antiq & Arch Soc. Old Series' in Kendal Castle, (1888), 178-85
Ferguson, R S , 'Trans Cumb & West Antiq & Arch Soc. Old Series' in Kendal Castle, (1888), 178-85
Harbottle, B, 'Archaeological Bulletin' in Arch Bull for Westmorland, Northumberland, , Vol. 8, (), 13
Spence, J E, 'Trans Cumb and West Antiq and Arch Soc. New Ser.' in Notes - Excavations at Kendal Castle, , Vol. LI, (1951), 185-7
Other
FMW Report, Capstick, B, AM 107, (1991)
Leach,P.E., MPP Single Monument Class Description - Enclosure Castles, (1989)
Leach,P.E., MPP Single Monument Class Description - Ringworks, (1988)
RCHME, Westmorland, (1936)

National Grid Reference: SD 52197 92420

Map

Map
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End of official listing