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Pickering castle is an English Heritage property just outside the town centre of Pickering. It is mainly a ruin now but some parts such as the chapel have been pretty much saved.
Pickering is easy to get to from York - one straight road. There is much to do in Pickering so you could easily spend a full day here. There are some lovely cafes and antique shops to browse round. The castle is a short walk from the town centre up a steep hill. Parking is plentiful and free.
£3.50 per adult, £3.00 concessions. Family tickets are available. There is no café at the castle.
The site is very interesting with guidebooks and information available. The Motte is well worth a trek up and you can see for miles around from the top. Some of the castle has steps up where you can see where the bedrooms etc would have been. Unfortunately the castle isn't too secure and vandals have damaged and graffitied the walls.
The price is pretty reasonable but we have the yearly membership through the tesco vouchers which makes it well worth it. I would recommend this site for all the family as there are picnic benches where you can eat whilst you look around. Overall - a great day out in Pickering.
Pickering Castle can be found just outside the town centre of Pickering, a quaint little market town on the edge of the North York Moors National Park. It is clearly sign posted from the middle of the town, but be warned when I visited here a few weeks ago some prankster had turned around the sign and I went trudging off along the road towards Malton (on foot) for about a mile in completely the wrong direction.
I did eventually find the castle, although even though the land around here is quite flat it is not, unlike most castles visible from afar. Pickering Castle is located just to the north of the town centre, just beyond the point where a modern post-war housing estate ends.
The castle is a typical motte and bailey style fortification, characterised by a large mound of earth (the motte) on which the castle stands. This is the first thing that you see as the castle comes into view - a perfectly round mound of earth, covered in green grass and surrounded by a deep trench (the bailey). There is a short bridge that crosses the trench that leads to a narrow entrance where there is a ticket office. The bridge and entrance into the castle is only a short distance from the car parking area and as far as I could see shouldn't pose too many problems even for visitors with disabilities.
On top of the perfectly shaped mound of earth is where the castle stands. First impressions revealed a well-preserved outer wall and I noted that there was a footpath that encircled this wall. However further inspection quickly revealed that the southern wall to the castle (the one facing the car park) is one of the most intact sections of the ruin. I walked around the walls and found that to the rear of the castle parts of the walls are crumbling away and at the time of my visit (mid August 2008) there was some scaffolding and structural supports in place. For this reason this footpath that goes around the walls would not be suitable for those that are unsteady on their feet.
The inner part of the castle can only be seen after you have paid the admission fee at the ticket office. The current admission charges are:
Adult - £3.50
Child - £1.80
Concessions - £2.80
Family ticket (2 adults + 2 children) - £8.80
As the castle is now in the care of English Heritage their members can however enter free, since I hold an annual membership with English Heritage I could therefore enter for free.
Many of the great English castles were constructed under the reign of William the Conquerer following the Norman Conquest of 1066. As a show of strength he had dozens of castles built for his loyal supporters and Pickering Castle is one such example of this generosity. This castle was built within just a few short months spanning 1069-1070. This original castle was however largely timber and was later replaced during the 12th and 13th centuries with stone. In addition to serving as a gift from the King for loyal support Pickering Castle also had a practical function to protect the area from assault from discontented northerners.
By the 16th century the castle had fallen into a state of disrepair and remained largely untouched until English Heritage's predecessors acquired it in 1926.
I love castles and I have visited many. I would say that considering that this castle has not been restored that it is quite well preserved. There is no denying that parts of the outer wall are impressive. It is well worth a visit if you find yourself in the area with an hour or so to spare but in all honesty there is a lot a great deal to see. In summary I have been to many better castles, but I have also been to many that are less impressive.
It is open daily between March and end September from 10am until 6pm and until 5pm outside this period, when it is closed on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The castle was built by the Normans under William the Conqueror in 10691070.