Notes: Castle is approximately 5 miles west of Scotch Corner in the small village of Ravensworth. It is not sign-posted but is visible from the road. No dedicated car parking but ample parking options.
WHAT IS THERE TO SEE?
Very little of the castle survives and what does is on private land and in poor condition. Only the square gatehouse still stands to any real height although fragments of walls and internal buildings can be seen. Earthwork remains are also visible.
Ravensworth Castle was built in the late fourteenth century by Henry FitzHugh possibly as a replacement for an earlier fortification. The castle passed into Crown ownership in 1571 but was neglected and by the early seventeenth century the structure was ruinous.
HISTORY OF RAVENSWORTH CASTLE
Little is know about the history of Ravensworth Castle but it stood guard over a wealthy settlement. The Domesday Book (1086) recorded its annual value as £1.5, only slightly reduced from the £2 of 1066 prior to the William I's 'Harrying of the North', and at the time of the survey it was held by Bodin of Middleham who had received them from Alan Rufus, Lord Richmond. Whether he raised a fortification here at this time is unknown but some form of hall existed by the thirteenth century as the site hosted a visit by King John in 1201. Given the turbulent relationship with Scotland, especially after the start of the Wars of Scottish Independence in 1296, it would seem unlikely if there wasn't some form of fortification on the site. By this time Ravensworth was in the hands of the FitzHugh family, descendants of Bodin, and in 1321 Henry FitzHugh was created a Baron by Edward II.
The remains seen today date from the late fourteenth century and were built for Henry, third Baron FitzHugh. Built on lands procured from Marrick Priory, this castle was a simple rectangular enclosure fortification protected by a substantial curtain wall and a (flooded) moat. Towers were built on the south-east and south-west corners whilst a square, three storey gatehouse dominated the northern side. There was no keep but numerous structures, presumably including a hall and all the ancillary buildings associated with such a settlement, were built within the walls as was a chapel. In 1391, presumably concurrently with the building work on the castle, Richard II granted Henry a licence to enclose a 200 acre park around his Ravensworth estate. Henry remained closely associated with the Crown even after the regime change in 1399 and served under Henry V in his continental campaigns.
The male line of the FitzHugh family died out in 1513 and ownership passed through the female line to Sir Thomas Parr. Following his death it passed to William Parr, Marquis of Northampton but a survey made at this time reported the castle to be ruinous. When William died without an heir in 1571 the site passed to the Crown but the castle was neglected and, around this time, it started to be pulled down with the masonry robbed and re-used in local buildings. By 1616 little was left other than what can be seen today.