Medieval Britain: Berkhamsted Castle. History, Facilities.
1066 AD
Open to Visitors

Berkhamsted Castle is a Norman motte-and-bailey castle built in 1066 during the Norman conquest of England. Chroniclers suggest that the Archbishop of York surrendered to William the Conqueror in Berkhamsted, who ordered the construction of the castle before proceeding south into London. Berkhamsted was designed as a fortress, with impressive earthwork defences, high motte and stone curtain wall. 

The castle was substantially expanded in the mid-12th century, probably by Thomas Becket. Later in 1164, during his quarrel with the king, Becket was accused of embezzlement and deprived of the honour of Berkhamsted. 

Berkhamsted Castle was besieged in 1216 during the civil war between King John and rebellious barons and successfully captured after Prince Louis, the future Louis VIII, attacked it with siege engines for twenty days. After being retaken, the castle was given to Richard, Earl of Cornwall, who redeveloped it as a palatial residence. Edward III further developed the castle in the 14th century.

In the late 15th century, the castle became increasingly unfashionable and fell into decline, being abandoned in 1495 after the death of Cecily Neville, the Duchess of York. Stone was taken from the castle during the 16th century to build houses and other buildings in the town. 

Thomas Becket and Henry II quarrelling. Becket was given Berkhamsted Castle by the king in 1155, and did much rebuilding there.
Thomas Becket and Henry II quarrelling. Becket was given Berkhamsted Castle by the king in 1155, and did much rebuilding there. Image courtesy of British Library Board.
Plan of Berkhamsted Castle
Plan of Berkhamsted Castle. Source: Castles: An Introduction to the Castles of England and Wales, 1954. Wikimedia Commons.

Visit Berkhamsted Castle


Dogs on Leads
No Facilities on-site
Carpark Nearby (Paid)
Bike Access
Cafes / Restaurants
Some Steps up onto the earthworks
Picnic Areas


Open daily, summer 10am-6pm, winter 10am-4pm.

Closed Christmas Day and New Years Day.

See calendar here >


White Hill, Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, HP4 1LJ


0370 333 1181




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