SE 460-223 Yorkshire England
Pontefract Castle overlays the town ditch and was originally part of the royal Saxon town of Tanshelf. In the late 11th century, Ilbert de Lacy founded an earthwork motte and bailey fortress, on the site. In the 12th and 13th century, the de Lacy family founded the stone castle, which later became the principal royal castle in the North of England. This noble Plantagenet castle stands high on a ridge, with a great ditch, barbican and two stone walled outer baileys but sadly nowhere better can be seen the results of Civil War slighting. The motte was encased, with a cluster of drum towers, to form a large and powerful keep. The inner bailey curtain wall, was flanked by seven large square towers, a twin-towered gatehouse and a 15th century detached tower, at the bottom of the scarp. In the inner bailey, are the rock-cut cellars of a Norman great hall, along with the foundations of two chapels, lodgings and service buildings. 9 miles west is Sandal Castle.
Pontefract Castle is located in the town centre, off Castle Chain. 14 miles south-east of Leeds, on the M62-A639.
The site is owned by the Duchy of Lancaster and is open daily, Monday to Friday 8:30-5:00pm, Saturday and Sunday 9:30-6:15pm, 4:30pm in winter. The visitors centre and shop are open, Wednesday to Sunday 11:00-3:00pm, with tours of the Underground Magazine at 3:00pm. Check website for details.
Car parking is adjacent to All Saints Church.