Castles in Cambridgeshire

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When it comes to travel inspiration, there’s little doubt that the fortresses of Cambridgeshire provide endless possibilities with famous locations such as Cambridge Castle, Huntingdon Castle and Woodwalton Castle being among the most popular to visit. Other prominent sites to visit usually include Ely Castle, Rampton Castle and Bourn Castle, which are all fascinating in their own right. We’ve put together an expert guide to the castles of Cambridgeshire with our top places to visit as well as a full list of castles in Cambridgeshire which shouldn’t be ignored if you have the time.

What are the best Castles in Cambridgeshire?

1. Cambridge Castle

Cambridge Castle, locally also known as Castle Mound, is located in Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England. Originally built after the Norman conquest to control the strategically important route to the north of England, it played a role in the conflicts of the Anarchy, the First and Second Barons' Wars. Hugely expanded by Edward I, the castle then fell rapidly into disuse in the late medieval era, its stonework recycled for building purposes in the surrounding colleges. Cambridge Castle was refortified during the English Civil War but once again fell into disuse, used primarily as the county gaol. The castle gaol was finally demolished in 1842, with a new prison built in the castle bailey. This prison was demolished in 1932, replaced with the modern Shire Hall, and only the castle motte and limited earthworks still stand. The site is open to the public daily and offers views over the historic buildings of the city.

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2. Huntingdon Castle

Huntingdon Castle was situated in the town of Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire. In 1068 a Norman motte and bailey castle was built for William the Conqueror. During the Anarchy the castle was held by David, King of Scotland through his marriage to Maud, 2nd Countess of Huntingdon. Parts of the castle did remain, including the chapel, and its ownership passed through a number of hands. The castle was refortified during the Civil War. For a time it served as the county gaol, and later a windmill stood on the castle mound. Nothing now remains of the castle itself apart from its earthworks, although the site is a scheduled ancient monument.

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3. Woodwalton Castle

Woodwalton Castle was a small motte and bailey castle at Church End, the northern end of the parish of Woodwalton, Huntingdonshire. Located on a natural hillock, the earthworks of the castle still remain, with an outer moat enclosing a circular bailey with a central motte. A large dyke, apparently ancient, runs from the outer moat in a north-easterly direction. The site is a scheduled ancient monument. It is unknown who built the castle or when it was constructed. It may have been erected by the de Bolbec family who held the manor of Woodwalton between 1086 and 1134, or by Ramsey Abbey which was granted the manor by Walter de Bolbec in 1134. Alternatively, it may have been built during The Anarchy, either by the sons of Aubrey de Senlis, who seized Woodwalton in 1143–4, or by Ernald, illegitimate son of Geoffrey de Mandeville, who moved his forces from Ramsey to Woodwalton after the death of his father in 1144.The existence of fishponds implies that the castle outlived the period of military conflict and developed as a residence controlling the northern part of the parish. The main settlement of Woodwalton village lies some 2 km to the south, and St Andrew's Church stands in isolation 600m south of the castle, possibly to serve both settlements.

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4. Ely Castle

Ely Castle was in the cathedral city of Ely in Cambridgeshire. (grid reference TL541799). Its probable site is a mound near the cathedral which is now called Cherry Hill. This was a motte and bailey castle built by William I in 1070 in his conflict with Hereward the Wake to subdue the Isle of Ely. Once Ely was quiescent the motte was abandoned. However it was refortified in 1140 during the Anarchy by Bishop Nigel but surrendered to King Stephen. In 1143 Geoffrey de Mandeville was placed in charge of the castle. A castle in Ely was said to have been taken and destroyed by Falkes de Breauté in 1216. During the Second Barons' War half a century later, Ely with its fortifications was captured in 1268. It is thought that the castle built by Bishop Nigel was demolished soon afterwards. There are no visible remains other than the mound. However, there was a considerable amount of evidence uncovered in 2002, after excavations on the site took place. The dig revealed large quantities of clay items, including jugs, and bowls that would have been used in everyday Norman life. The findings of the dig can now be found in the Ely History museum along with other significant findings from the area.

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5. Rampton Castle

Rampton Castle, known locally as Giant's Hill, is the earthwork remains of a motte and bailey castle in Rampton, Cambridgeshire. It is believed that the castle was constructed during The Anarchy by the forces of King Stephen to contain the revolt of Geoffrey de Mandeville. The castle was not completed; construction was probably halted by de Mandeville's death at nearby Burwell Castle in 1144. Sited near to the churchyard of All Saints' Church, the castle is thought to have been built over the eastern end of the medieval village.

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6. Bourn Castle

Bourn Castle was in the village of Bourn in Cambridgeshire, 10 miles to the west of Cambridge. It originally consisted of wooden buildings on an earthwork enclosure which was erected in Norman times towards the end of the reign of William the Conqueror. This was burnt down during the reign of Henry III. In the early 16th century Bourn Hall was built on part of the site.

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7. Eaton Socon Castle

Eaton Socon Castle stood beside the River Ouse in the village of Eaton Socon, which was originally a village in Bedfordshire but is now a district of St Neots in Cambridgeshire. The castle was a Norman double enclosure, whose construction required the demolition of Saxon houses, and was surrounded by moats filled with water diverted from the river. It was once in possession of the de Mandeville family but by 1156 was held by the Beauchamp family. Only earthworks now remain.

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8. Woodcroft Castle

Woodcroft Castle is a moated medieval castle in the parish of Etton, Cambridgeshire, England.

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9. Etton, Cambridgeshire

Etton is a village and civil parish in the unitary authority area of the city of Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, in England. For electoral purposes it forms part of Northborough ward in North West Cambridgeshire constituency. The parish had a population of 158 persons and 58 households in 2001.Woodcroft is a deserted medieval village and site of Woodcroft Castle.

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10. Kimbolton Castle

Kimbolton Castle is a country house in Kimbolton, Huntingdonshire, Cambridgeshire. It was the final home of King Henry VIII's first wife, Catherine of Aragon. Originally a medieval castle but converted into a stately palace, it was the family seat of the Dukes of Manchester from 1615 until 1950. It now houses Kimbolton School.

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Full list of Castles in Cambridgeshire

While many travellers may ignore the lesser-known fortresses of Cambridgeshire on their way to the more famous destinations like Cambridge Castle or Huntingdon Castle, to skip Kirtling Tower, Maxey Castle or Castle Camps means to miss out on some of the most fascinating locations. It isn’t intended to be an exhaustive list and wouldn’t claim to be, but hopefully for those seeking to visit important fortresses of Cambridgeshire it will give you a good place from which to start exploring.

Burwell Castle

Burwell Castle was an unfinished medieval enclosure castle in Burwell, Cambridgeshire, England.

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Castle Camps

Castle Camps was a Norman Castle located in what is now the civil parish of Castle Camps, Cambridgeshire.

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Cheveley Castle

Cheveley Castle was a medieval fortified manor house near Cheveley, Cambridgeshire, England.

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Kirtling Tower

Kirtling Tower was a medieval castle and Tudor country house in Kirtling, Cambridgeshire, England, of which the gatehouse still remains.

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Maxey Castle

Maxey Castle was a medieval fortified manor house castle in Maxey, Cambridgeshire, England.

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Peterborough Castle

Peterborough Castle, also known as Mount Thorold and Touthill, was a medieval motte and bailey castle in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, England.

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Wisbech Castle

Wisbech Castle is believed to have been a motte-and-bailey earthwork castle built to fortify Wisbech (historically in the Isle of Ely but now in the Fenland District of Cambridgeshire, England) on the orders of William I in 1072. This was probably oval in shape and size, on the line still marked by the Circus. The original design and layout is unknown.

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Zouches Manor

Zouches Manor (also Zouches Castle) was an Anglo-Saxon moated manor in Fulbourn Fen, a Site of Special Scientific Interest in the village of Fulbourn, Cambridgeshire, England. It is one of the historic Five Manors of Fulbourn and recorded to have existed 1066 AD to 1539 AD.

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We’re constantly expanding this list of castles in Cambridgeshire and if you do notice any omissions then please feel free to contact us with further information and our editorial team will look to expand this collection further.