Sandal Castle - History and Facts | History Hit

Sandal Castle

Wakefield, England, United Kingdom

Sandal Castle sits near the site of one of the most important battles in the Wars of the Roses - the Battle of Wakefield.

Lily Johnson

08 Jul 2021

About Sandal Castle

Sandal Castle is a ruined stronghold dating back to the 12th century, which played an important role in the Wars of the Roses.

Sandal Castle history

Likely built by William de Warenne in the 12th century, Sandal Castle was one of a number of magnificent strongholds that would build up the Warenne estate, including Lewes Castle, Reigate Castle, Castle Acre Castle, and Conisbrough Castle.

In the early years of the Wars of the Roses, Richard of York was preparing to make a bid for the throne. In 1460, he arrived at Sandal Castle when he was lured into an ambush by the Lancastrians. The bloody Battle of Wakefield ensued.

The result of Wakefield was devastating for the Yorkists. Richard of York and his second son Edmund, alongside Richard Neville, Earl of Salisbury were among the many Yorkists killed.

Richard of York’s head, complete with paper crown, was sent to the city of York to be displayed over one of the gates, reportedly “so that York could look out over York”. His son Edmund’s head suffered the same fate.

Though the Battle of Wakefield marked a major victory for the Lancastrians, just 2 months later Richard of York’s son Edward IV was crowned king.

Sandal Castle today

Today the ruins of Sandal Castle may be explored by visitors, where many picnic amongst the archways and towers of the once-magnificent stronghold.

With the intriguing Norman earthworks still intact, including the imposing motte and surrounding moat, Sandal is a wonderful place to explore England’s medieval past. Information boards give the site’s fascinating history, and throughout the year regular exhibition programmes take place there.

Guided tours of Sandal Castle are available from the Visitor Centre on Wood Street, which also exhibits finds from several excavations of the site.

Getting to Sandal Castle

Sandal Castle is located in Wakefield and is easily accessible from the M1 via Junction 39. It is a 10-minute walk to the nearest bus stop, and a 20-minute walk to Sandal and Agbrigg Railway Station.

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