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Postcode: DL12 9LG

Lat/Long:  54.5167N 2.0136W

Notes:  Castle is situated on Back Lane which is to the south of the main street through the village (The St). A small lay-by just about has enough space for one car.  


Remains of a square stone keep set amongst some Roman/medieval earthworks.

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Castle is owned and managed by English Heritage.


1. In the latter half of the twelfth century Bowes Castle was upgraded due to an expected invasion by the Scottish King, William the Lion. However, the actual invasion of 1173-4 ended with victory for the English when forces of Henry II successfully defeated the Scots at the Battle of Alnwick (1174). William the Lion was captured increasing the security of the north for decades to follow.

2. Bowes sat on a Roman Road that crossed the country connecting Dere Street and the Brougham/Carlisle Road - the two major routes that ran north/south on the east and west sides of northern England. The nearest neighbours to Bowes were Catterick (Cataractonium) in the east and Brough (Verteris) in the west. The road it guarded would have been used by the York based Sixth Legion (Legio VI Victrix) to deploy into Cumbria or north to the Hadrianic frontier and Western Scotland.

England > North East BOWES CASTLE

Built re-using stone and earthworks dug by the Romans, Bowes Castle provided a safe refuge during the Scottish invasions of the north of England in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. However following Robert the Bruce’s sustained invasion following Bannockburn, the manor of Bowes was economically destroyed and ultimately abandoned.


The first fortification on this site was a Roman Fort built in the late first century during the initial Imperial push into Northern England and beyond. Built to guard the Stainmore Pass it was initially an earth and timber structure configured in the normal layout; a Headquarters building in the centre, gateways within each wall and barracks in each quadrant. The fort was rebuilt in stone in the early second century and remained occupied until the Roman military draw down commenced in the fourth century.

The Normans re-used the site including the stone and ditches already provided by the Romans; the first Normal castle was built here no later than 1140 by Alan, Count of Brittany. The castle reverted to the Crown in 1171 and it was Henry II who built the square stone keep visible today. The upgrade proved timely as it was attacked by invading Scots in 1173. By the early thirteenth century it was still in good repair as it hosted King John in 1206 and 1212.  

Following the English defeat at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 coupled with the ineffective and weak rule of Edward II, the castle was attacked and reported to be in ruins by 1325. Certainly the devastating Scottish attacks on the local area decimated the economic viability of the manor ultimately making the castle irrelevant.

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