Welcome to Lancaster Castle or as it is commonly known John O’ Gaunt’s Castle.
In part 1, we will take a trip back in time discovering origins of castle from early Roman period to present day. You will discover how it went from a simple Roman fort to a great bastion, and then converted to a prison. The use of which, has lasted for over 3 centuries
The Castle has stood in various forms for over 900 years with a history to match. I hope to give you a glimpse into its past life and invite you to further discover Lancaster Castle for yourselves.
Lancaster Castle stemmed from an original fort built by Romans overlooking town of Lancaster and River Lune to help combat invading forces of Picts and Scots. Following demise of Roman Empire in Britain during 5th century, Lancaster fell into decline and it was not until Norman Conquest that present castle took on a more solid structure with building of Norman Keep by Roger of Poitou.
Lancaster led a very turbulent and colourful life having a succession of owners. A total of 265 executions took place within her walls, as well as infamous Pendle witch trials of 1612. A total of ten people were tried and convicted of witchcraft. If you were unlucky enough to be imprisoned within her walls from later half of 18th century onwards, you could have found yourself transported to new found colony of Australia.
In 1399 Richard II seized castle from 2nd Duke of Lancaster, John of Gaunt after his death and claimed castle in name of monarchy. When Henry IV ousted Richard in same year, castle became part of Duchy of Lancaster where it has remained ever since.
Henry undertook a massive rebuilding program which saw addition of a twin-towered gatehouse. The gatehouse consisted of two 20 metre high towers consisting of several floors with top two being dived into a number of rooms. A Well Tower (which became know as Witch’s Tower) was built during 14th century and consisted of two deep wells and several underground dungeons. These dungeons went on to house people accused of witchcraft prior to their trial at Lancaster Castle during reign of King James I in 16th century.