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

Kendal Castle Howe

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Castle How; Castle Law; Castle how-hill; Castle Low Hill

In the civil parish of Kendal.
In the historic county of Westmorland.
Modern Authority of Cumbria.
1974 county of Cumbria.
Medieval County of Westmorland.

OS Map Grid Reference: SD51249238
Latitude 54.32474° Longitude -2.75108°

Kendal Castle Howe has been described as a certain Timber Castle.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


Earthwork remains of a motte and bailey castle, precursor to Kendal, built in c. 1092. The flat topped motte is 11m high, which measures circa 18m in diameter at the summit and circa 46m in diameter at the base. The triangular bailey is situated to the east and has been virtually destroyed by the making of a public park. (PastScape)

Castle Howe (Plate 1), motte and bailey earthwork on the W. of the town, 550 yards N.W. of the church. The work comprises a tongue or spur of the hillside and encloses an area of about 2 acres. The motte is about 50 yards in diameter at the base and about 37 ft. in height but rising 47 ft. above the level of the bailey, which lies to the E. of the motte. The whole earthwork has been much altered and damaged by the construction of foot-paths, levelling and other operations and little can now be said as to its original form.
Condition—Poor. (RCHME 1936)

Despite landscaping of the bailey to create a public park, Castle Howe motte and bailey survives reasonably well. It is of particular importance as being one of a group of early post Conquest (late 11th century) motte and baileys established along the river valleys of north west England. These sites were all of strategic importance allowing control of movement along the river valley. More importantly, however, was their role in imposing and demonstrating the new post Conquest feudal order on the area.
The monument includes Castle Howe motte and bailey castle in Kendal. The site is strategically situated on a hillside spur overlooking the Kent valley and the town of Kendal, and includes a round flat-topped motte 11m high which measures c.18m in diameter across the summit and approximately 46m in diameter at the base. It is surrounded on the north and south sides by a ditch up to 7m wide by 1.5m deep which has been cut across a tongue of limestone bedrock. Some of the upcast from this ditch has been used to form a rampart or bank up to 5m wide and 1m high on the outside of the ditch to the north of the motte. To the east of the motte there is a triangular bailey, known locally as 'Battle Place', which is protected by steep natural slopes on the east and south sides. The motte and bailey was constructed in the latter years of the 11th century for the barony of Kendal and was occupied by Ketel, son of Eldred, in 1092. The summit of the motte was surrounded by a breastwork, traces of which have now disappeared above ground level. As additional protection for the bailey a terrace was cut some 12m below the level on the steep slope to the east. This terrace has now become a road called Garth Head. The motte and bailey was probably abandoned about 1184 when a stone castle was built on the opposite side of the valley. (Scheduling Report)

Kendal Castle, to the East of the earthworks, was probably built whilst Castle Howe was still being used. There's no evidence to suggest that Castle Howe was directly replaced by the new castle the other side of the river. If anything, there's every possibility that Castle Howe was the baronial centre of Kirkland, and that Kendal castle was the baronial centre of Kentdale. (Matthew Emmott 2006)

Accounts of possible builders and ownership vary across sources. Although it has often be stated this was a precursor site to Kendal Castle, as Matthew Emmott states, it was likely to have been the castle of separate lordship with both castles occupied at the same time. Kendal Castle, which was originally a ringwork, may have been the earlier.
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

Data >
PastScape   County HER   Scheduling        
Maps >
Streetmap   NLS maps   Where's the path   Old-Maps      
Data/Maps > 
Magic   V. O. B.   Geology   LiDAR   Open Domesday  
Air Photos > 
Bing Maps   Google Maps   Getmapping   ZoomEarth      
Photos >
CastleFacts   Geograph   Flickr   Panoramio      

Sources of information, references and further reading
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 Historic England, County Historic Environment Records and other individuals and organisations. It may also contain information licensed under the Open Government Licence. 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.
This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:30

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