From The Neolithic To The Sea: A Journey From The Past To The Present

Sandal Castle

West Yorkshire
53° 39′ 31.9″ N, 1° 29′ 26.9″ W

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Sandal Castle is located at Sandal Magna, in Wakefield, West Yorkshire. It sits in a ruined state and is used for plays and re-enactments as well as family days out.

Sandal castle is one of two castles built at Wakefield, the other castle was built at Lowe Hill. These were motte and bailey castles with towers built of wood. Some stone was used in the early 12th century. Sandal castle was later expanded and built from stone in the 13th while the castle at Lowe Hill was abandoned. Although Sandal castle was destroyed in 1317 it was rebuilt in 1328.

The castle saw action in the War of the Roses, when Richard Plantagenet made a bid for the throne in 1460, he was defeated late December after being made heir and Protector of the Realm.

In 1483, King Richard III chose the castle as a northern base to quell an uprising. It was in 1485 he again used the castle as a base but was killed in the Battle of Bosworth fighting against Henry Tudor.

During the Third Civil war the castle was held by the Royalists and it was in 1645 that the castle was besieged by Parliamentarian troops. The Royalists eventually surrendered in October 1645. The castle was slighted so it could not be used as a stronghold again.

Since that time the castle has been subject to stone mining, leaving mostly earthworks.


The castle featured in one of Shakespeare's plays, called Henry VI. Although it is not historically correct, the play is performed at the castle from time to time.

The castle is said to have been the source of the nursery rhyme, 'The Grand Old Duke of York' as well as the mnemonic for remembering the colours of the rainbow - Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain following his defeat in the Battle of Wakefield.