A comprehensive gazetteer and bibliography of the medieval castles, fortifications and palaces of England, Wales and the Islands.
The listings
Other Info
Print Page 
Next Record 
Back to list 

Leicester Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
The Newarke

In the civil parish of Leicester.
In the historic county of Leicestershire.
Modern Authority of Leicester; City of.
1974 county of Leicestershire.

OS Map Grid Reference: SK58260413
Latitude 52.63170° Longitude -1.14063°

Leicester Castle has been described as a certain Timber Castle, and also as a certain Masonry Castle.

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.
This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law*.


The original motte and bailey castle (SK 50 SE 1) was built in timber by Hugh de Grentmesnil to whom William the Conqueror granted Leicester circa 1068. It was apparently rebuilt by Robert Beaumont, Count of Meulan and first Earl of Leicester, following the almost certain damage which it suffered in the rebellion of 1101. Robert 'le Bosso' is generally credited with the building of the great hall (SK 50 SE 165) who inherited the castle in 1118. Henry II ordered its demolition in 1174 but how much was cleared is unknown as it is again recorded as being the residence of the Earl of Leicester. Simon de Montfort held it from 1231 until his death in 1265 when it passed to Edmund Crouchback who improved the structure. John of Gaunt died there in 1399 and after his son became Henry IV it was only used occasionally for Parliaments; the 'Parliament of Bats' was assembled there in 1426. Richard III seems to have been the last occupant in 1483 and by Charles I's time, apart from the great hall, the rest was 'utterly ruynous, useless and irreparable' (PastScape–ref-Clarke; Pevsner; HKW)

The castle mound is about 30ft high, the steepest scars being 4ft on the south west and the diameter of the level summit 100ft. It was considerably higher, probably 12 to 15ft until reduced and levelled for a bowling green in C19. Excavations have located the castle wall.

The Newarke, A stone-walled outer bailey added to Leicester Castle in circa 1330 and enlarged in 1354. A fragment of the wall survives and two gateways.
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

Data >
PastScape       Scheduling   Listing   I. O. E.
Maps >
OS getamap   Streetmap   Old-Maps   Where's the path   NLS maps  
Data/Maps > 
Magic   V. O. B.   Geology   EarthTools   GeoHack  
Air Photos > 
Bing Maps   Google Maps   Getmapping   Flashearth      
Photos >
CastleFacts   Geograph   Flickr   Panoramio      

Sources of information, references and further reading
  • Websites (Gatehouse is not responsible for the content of external websites.)
  • Books
    • Goodall, John, 2011, The English Castle 1066-1650 (Yale University Press) passim
      Purton, P.F., 2009, A History of the Early Medieval Siege c. 450-1220 (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press) p. 311 (1173 siege)
      Cantor, Leonard, 2003, The Scheduled Ancient Monument of Leicestershire and Rutland (Leicester: Kairos Press) p. 35-6
      Salter, Mike, 2002, The Castles of the East Midlands (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 40-1
      Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 139-40
      Salter, Mike, 1993, Midlands Castles (Birmingham) p. 60
      Higham, R. and Barker, P., 1992, Timber Castles (Batsford) p. 178, 179, 192, 349
      McKinley, R.A., 1988, VCH Leicestershire Vol. 4 p. 344-47
      Drage, C., 1987, 'Urban castles' in Schofield, J. and Leech, R. (eds) Urban Archaeology in Britain (CBA Research Report 61) p. 117-32 online copy
      Pevsner, Nikolaus; revised by Elizabeth Williamson with Geoffrey K Brandwood, 1984, Buildings of England: Leicestershire and Rutland (Harmondsworth) p. 217-221
      King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1
      Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 253
      Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 223
      Fox, L .,1972, 'Leicester Castle' in Brown, A.E. (ed), The Growth of Leicester (Leicester University Press) p. 19-25
      Colvin, H.M., Brown, R.Allen and Taylor, A.J., 1963, The history of the King's Works Vol. 2: the Middle Ages (London: HMSO) p. 702-3
      Toy, Sidney, 1953, The Castles of Great Britain (Heinemann) p. 157-8
      Billson, C.J., 1920, Mediaeval Leicester (Leicester) p. 41, 200-1 (slight) online copy
      Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
      Wall, C., 1907, 'Ancient Earthworks' in Page, Wm, (ed), VCH Leicestershire Vol. 1 p. 260-1 (plan) online copy
      Mackenzie, J.D., 1896, Castles of England; their story and structure (New York: Macmillan) Vol. 1 p. 415-17 online copy
      Johnson, T. Fielding, 1896, Glimpses of Ancient Leicester p. 48, 134-7 (note) online copy
      Clark, G.T., 1884, Mediaeval Military Architecture in England (Wyman and Sons) Vol. 2 p. 182-8 online copy
      Timbs, J. and Gunn, A., 1872, Abbeys, Castles and Ancient Halls of England and Wales Vol. 2 (London) p. 347-9 online copy
      Turner, T.H. and Parker, J.H., 1859, Some account of Domestic Architecture in England (Oxford) Vol. 3 Part 2 p. 237 online copy
      Thompson, J., 1859, An Account of Leicester Castle (Leicester: Crossley and Clarke) online copy
      Flower, J., 18225, Views of ancient buildings in the town and county of Leicester (Leicester: W.Day) passim online copy
  • Periodical Articles
    • Alcock, N W and Buckley, J., 1987, 'Leicester Castle: the Great Hall' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 31 p. 73-9 download copy
      Thompson, M.W., 1986, 'Associated monasteries and castles in the Middle Ages: a tentative list' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 143 p. 314, 319
      Cantor, Leonard, 1977-8, 'The Medieval Castles of Leicestershire' Transactions of the Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society Vol. 53 p. 36-7 online copy
      Brown, R, Allen, 1959, 'A List of Castles, 1154–1216' English Historical Review Vol. 74 p. 249-280 (Reprinted in Brown, R. Allen, 1989, Castles, conquest and charters: collected papers (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 90-121) view online copy (subscription required)
      Radford, C.A.R., 1955, 'Leicester: Church of St Mary de Castro' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 112 p. 156-8
      Clarke, 1952, Transactions of the Leicestershire Architectural and Archaeological Society Vol. 28 p. 22-29 online copy
      Fox, Levi, 1944-5, 'Leicester Castle' Transactions of the Leicestershire Architectural and Archaeological Society Vol. 22 p. 125-70 (reprinted as guide book) online copy
      Wood, M., 1935, 'Norman Domestic Architecture' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 92 p. 167-242 esp 190-1 online copy
      1933, The Archaeological Journal Vol. 90 p. 368 (note) online copy
      Chalkley Gould, 1900, The Antiquary Vol. 36 p. 372-4 (where as ascribed to the Danes)
      Bellairs, 1893, Transactions of the Leicestershire Architectural and Archaeological Society Vol. 7 p. 150-2 and plates (on the late Newarke gateway)
      Clark, G.T., 1889, 'Contribution towards a complete list of moated mounds or burhs' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 46 p. 197-217 esp. 207 online copy
      Clark, G.T., 1867, The Builder Vol. 25 p. 487-8 (reprinted in MMA)
      Thompson, J., 1866, Transactions of the Leicestershire Architectural and Archaeological Society Vol. 1 p. 84-6 online copy
  • Guidebooks
    • Chinnery, G.A., 1981, Leicester Castle and the Newarke (Leicester Museums)
      Thompson, J., 1977 (original edn 1859), An Account of Leicester Castle (Sycamore Press)
      Fox, Levi, 1944, Leicester Castle (Leicester) (see Journal article)
  • Primary (Medieval documents or transcriptions of such documents - This section is far from complete and the secondary sources should be consulted for full references.)
  • Antiquarian (Histories and accounts from late medieval and early modern writers)
    • Camden, Wm, 1607, Britannia hypertext critical edition by Dana F. Sutton (2004)
      Chandler, John, 1993, John Leland's Itinerary: travels in Tudor England  (Sutton Publishing) p. 277
      Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1907, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 1 p. 15 online copy
  • Other sources: Theses; 'grey' literature; in-house reports; unpublished works; etc.
    • English Heritage, 2014, Heritage at Risk Register 2014 East Midlands (London: English Heritage) p. 13, 14 online copy
      English Heritage, 2013, Heritage at Risk Register 2013 East Midlands (London: English Heritage) p. 14, 15 online copy
      English Heritage, 2012, Heritage at Risk Register 2012 East Midlands (London: English Heritage) p. 29, 30 online copy
      English Heritage, 2011, Heritage at Risk Register 2011 East Midlands (London: English Heritage) p. 28 online copy
      English Heritage, 2010, Heritage at Risk Register 2010 East Midlands (London: English Heritage) p. 25 online copy
      Fradley, Michael, 2011, The Old in the New: Urban Castle Imposition in Anglo-Norman England, AD1050-1150 (University of Exeter PhD Thesis) available via EThOS
      Smith, P., 2009, Leicester Castle, Leicester, Leicestershire, The Courtrooms in the Former Great Hall: Historic Buildings Report (English Heritage Research Department Reports series 19-2009) online copy
      Finn, N., 2004, An Archaeological Watching Brief on Castle Street, Leicester ULAS online copy
Most of the sites or buildings recorded in this web site are NOT open to the public and permission to visit a site must always be sought from the landowner or tenant.
It is an offence to disturb a Scheduled Monument without consent. It is a destruction of everyone's heritage to remove archaeological evidence from ANY site without proper recording and reporting.
Don't use metal detectors on historic sites without authorisation.
The information on this web page may be derived from information compiled by and/or copyright of English Heritage, County Historic Environment Records and other individuals and organisations. All the sources given should be consulted to identify the original copyright holder and permission obtained from them before use of the information on this site for commercial purposes.
The author and compiler of Gatehouse does not receive any income from the site and funds it himself. The information within this site is provided freely for educational purposes only.
The bibliography owes much to various bibliographies produced by John Kenyon for the Council for British Archaeology, the Castle Studies Group and others.
Suggestions for finding online and/or hard copies of bibliographical sources can be seen at this link.
Minor archaeological investigations, such as watching brief reports, and some other 'grey' literature is most likely to be held by H.E.R.s but is often poorly referenced and is unlikely to be recorded here, or elsewhere, but some suggestions can be found here.
The possible site or monument is represented on maps as a point location. This is a guide only. It should be noted that OS grid references defines an area, not a point location. In practice this means the actual center of the site or monument may often, but not always, be to the North East of the point shown. Locations derived from OS grid references and from latitude longitiude may differ by a small distance.
Further information on mapping and location can be seen at this link.
Please help to make this as useful a resource as possible by contacting Gatehouse if you see errors, can add information or have suggestions for improvements in functality and design.
Help is acknowledged.
*The listed building may not be the actual medieval building, but a building on the site of, or incorporating fragments of, the described site.
This record last updated on Saturday, November 15, 2014

Home | Books | Links | Fortifications and Castles | Other Information | Help | Downloads | Author Information | Contact