The earthwork remains of a motte-and-bailey castle most probably dating from the late eleventh century. The site is accessible via a public footpath that runs through the bailey. Only a portion of the motte still survives due to the River Lune having shifted its course towards the fortification.
NO OFFICIAL SITE
Notes: Located adjacent to the M6 Motorway near Junction 38. Not sign-posted but leave the motorway at Junction 38 and go left on the roundabout onto the B6260. A small car parking area is adjacent to the footpath to the castle.
ACCESSING CASTLE HOWE
From the parking area follow go through the gate (the pubic footpath is signposted), turn left and go under the M6.
Today the remains of Castle Howe, near Tebay, are briefly glimpsed by motorists as they drive north/south along the M6 Motorway. This road was pre-dated by the line of the Roman Watling Street – the main road north to Carlisle – and the fortification controlled both this and the lucrative trade along the River Lune.
HISTORY OF CASTLE HOWE
Castle Howe was a motte-and-bailey fortification built near the intersection between the River Lune and Birk Beck. Little is known about the history of the structure but it was presumably constructed shortly after the Norman Conquest in order to control trade along the River particularly from the fertile agricultural areas downstream. It was also situated on the best western land route through the Pennines used from at least Roman times as the Chester to Carlisle section of Watling Street worked its way north through the valley. The site of Castle Howe sat between Low Borrowbridge Fort some two miles to the south and Brougham in the north. The route remains of strategic importance today hence the proximity of the M6 Motorway!
Another earthwork, at nearby Greenhowe guarding the intersection of the Birk Beck with the Bretherdale Beck, may have been either a second castle occupied concurrently or a slightly earlier/later structure. Regardless both this and Castle Howe were only occupied for a short period. Its buildings remained of timber construction with no evidence of any rebuilding in stone and the site was almost certainly abandoned by the late twelfth century. Today the course of the River Lune has shifted towards the castle's remains causing part of the motte to have succumbed to subsidence.