incoln Castle is just one of the two castles in England that has two mottes, the other example being Lewes Castle in East Sussex. In 1068, only a couple of years after the Norman Invasion, a Norman-style castle was built at Lincoln on the order of William the Conqueror. Records show that 166 houses were demolished to make room for the construction site. Lincoln Castle stands a short distance from the magnificent Lincoln cathedral, both of which dominate the city's skyline. The castle has two gatehouses, an ornate large gatehouse directly opposite the cathedral on the eastern side and a simpler square tower to the west. The motte to the south west has the remains of a shell keep on top of it which is known as the Lucy Tower. The tower is roughly circular in shape consisting of fifteen sections of 20 foot tall walls. The motte to the south-east of the castle has another tower on its summit known as the Observatory Tower.

In 1140 Lincoln the city and castle were taken possession supporters of Matilda, the daughter of King Henry I. Matilda was fighting to take the English throne from King Stephen. The King's army besieged the castle in the final months of 1140 and when news reached Matilda she sent her army to help. In February 1141 at the Battle of Lincoln King Stephen was captured and transported to Bristol where he was held prisoner for a short time.

At the start of the Civil War, in the reign of Charles I, the castle was fortified and held by Royalist supporters. But the castle and the city fell to Parliamentarian forces in May 1644.

Lincoln Castle Key Facts
CountyLincolnshire (4 castles)
CategoriesMotte & Bailey
RemainsNot complete but much survives
Access to siteOnly open at certain times

1068   Construction of Lincoln Castle
 William the Conqueror ordered that building work on a castle at Lincoln was to be started. 
1140 Dec  Stephen besieges Lincoln
 Lincoln, held by Matilda's supporters, was besieged by King Stephen. The siege would continue until February the next year.[1]

Episode: Civil War Stephen and Matilda  

Motte and Bailey Castles

Virtual reconstruction

The Norman Conquerors built their castles in locations where they could keep control of the local populations of Saxons or at important locations such as river crossings or on key roads. Many motte and bailey castles were built on the border with Wales to try and keep the Welsh at bay. The advantage of this type of castle was that it was quick to construct. Making a fortification from wood was much easier than making one of stone.


Do you want to explore a Saxon Hall, a medieval church or a large stone keep? Click the images below to enter a medieval world.


If you are Using Edge, Chrome Or Firefox

Explore a virtual UK Landscape (Beta)

View this page on a desktop computer to explore a virtual UK landscape.

Virtual Reconstructions

Transport yourself back up to a thousand years and explore historical buildings as they may have appeared in the past.

Explore a Motte and Bailey Castle

Android Phone App

TimeRef UK Castles Mobile App for Android Phone

This Android app allows you to find castles thar are near you. Currently the app includes only English and Welsh castles.

View Details in Google Play Store

View Instructions