Woodhead Castle was a fortified manor that was originally the seat of the Grelley family. Surrounded by a wet moat and stone curtain wall, it was a substantial residence which was grand enough to host a visit by Edward I in 1290. It passed through numerous owners during the fourteenth century and by 1543 was reportedly ruinous.



Woodhead Castle was a fortified manorial site that probably evolved from an earlier ring-and-bailey fortification. Originally owned by the Fitzwilliams, it passed to the Grelley family around 1150 who made it their primary seat. They entertained Edward I there in 1290.


The castle itself consisted of an inner enclosure, the ringwork, and a bailey. The former was a square moated platform that was originally enclosed by a wet moat and stone wall. The internal buildings, which included a chapel, were concentrated on the northern end of the site. A small rectangular bailey was located to the east but, given its small size relative to the main ringwork, it was probably just used as a livestock enclosure. To the south of the ringwork was a rectangular fishpond, an important source of food in the medieval household.


Woodhead Castle passed to John de la Warre in the early fourteenth century and by 1390 was in the hands of the Browne family. By 1543 it was reportedly ruinous and today survives only as a series of earthworks.





Hartley, R.F (1983). The Medieval Earthworks of Rutland.

Higham, R and Barker, P (1992). Timber Castles. Batsford.

Historic England (1992). Woodhead Castle ringwork bailey and fishpond, List Entry 1010923. Historic England, London.

King, C.D.J (1983). Castellarium anglicanum: an index and bibliography of the castles in England, Wales and the Islands.  Kraus International Publications.

Montgomerie (1924). Ancient Earthworks. VCH Worcestershire.

Saltar, M (2002). Castles of the East Midlands. Folly Publications, Malvern.

What's There?

Woodhead Castle survives as a square earthwork located to the side of a farmer's field. It is on privately owned land with no public access but a right of way exists nearby enabling the earthworks to be viewed from a distance. They can also be seen from Pickworth Road.

Woodhead Castle. The main 'ringwork' measured around 90 metres square and was surrounded by a wet moat and a stone curtain wall. A rectangular bailey, which was smaller than the main ringwork and probably just used for livestock, was located to the east.

Getting There

Woodhead Castle is found in a field off Pickworth Road to the north of Great Casterton. The remains are on private land with no public access but can be viewed (at a distance) from the adjacent right of way which is accessed from Pickworth Road. Car parking is possible on the grass verge.

Car Parking Option

Pickworth Road, PE9 4DF

52.685751N 0.522552W

Woodhead Castle

No Postcode

52.693392N 0.527110W