The town of Ludlow lies within a curve of the River Teme and this provides a natural defensive border around the town's southern and western sides. The river goes around a rocky hill and it is on the top of this hill that the castle is located. In medieval times the town itself was surrounded by a stone wall which formed part of the castle's outer battlements. To the south and east of the castle there was no natural defence and so a ditch was cut into the rock between the outer walls and the town. The ditch has now been filled in and cannot be seen. There would have been a bridge crossing the outer ditch but again nothing can be seen.
The outer bailey
Although most of the castle is now a ruin there is much that can be explored. The castle consists of an inner and outer bailey. The outer bailey is rectangular in shape and the inner bailey is pear drop shaped. The inner bailey is located in the north-west corner of the castle and is cut off by a ditch cut into the rock. The main entrance to Ludlow Castle is via the gatehouse on the eastern side. The outer bailey is surrounded by the castle's curtain wall and several buildings have been constructed along the inside of the wall. These buildings vary in date and were constructed after the medieval period.
The inner bailey
The inner bailey is surrounded by walls and access to it is through a strong tower-gatehouse keep called the Great Tower. This keep has been modified greatly over the years with sections of it being removed and other sections added to. Several large buildings are arranged along the north side of the inner bailey. Originally built in the Norman period they were improved in the Edwardian period and beyond.
The round chapel
Within the inner bailey is a small round chapel built by the Normans and resembling the temple church in London. The chapel was said to be dedicated to St Mary Magdalene. Not much remains except the west door and the circular nave with a mural arcade that was once filled with panels. The door is an example of enriched Norman work and has chevron mouldings on the outer arch. The arcade within the nave consists of seven arches each side of the door. The arches are round and are either plain or have chevrons. The chancel section of the church has now gone but excavations have shown that it was square and had an semi-octagonal apse at the end. At some later point the chancel and apse were removed and a building added that joined the eastern side of the inner bailey curtain wall. A second floor was inserted into the round chapel and a doorway cut on the northern side so that this second floor could be reached directly from the living quarters via a wooden bridge.