While no actual Cambridge Castle exists anymore, you can still climb to the top of Cambridge Castle Mound to get a view of the city below.
There’s not anything left of Cambridge Castle but the mound the fortress once stood on. I had the pleasure of visiting the Castle Mound in Cambridge and climbing to the top. This is an amazing place to get a view of the city.
In this guide, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about visiting Cambridge Castle Mound, including the history of the castle, how long the climb is, and where to stay nearby.
Cambridge Castle Mound Overview
The mounds is all that remains of Cambridge Castle, a Norman castle that once presided over Cambridge, England.
The 33-foot tall mound is a great place to hike up and see views of the city. This is the highest point in Cambridge.
Cambridge Castle History
William the Conqueror built Cambridge Castle in 1068 during his campaign to capture York. This was originally the site of the Roman town of Duroliponte, an Iron Age hill fort, making it an optimal place to build a new castle.
The castle played a key role in the Anarchy, a civil war between England and Normandy that lasted from 1135 to 1153. In the years before the First Barons’ War of 1215 to 1217, King John expanded the castle by adding a new hall and chamber. The castle fell to rebel barons in 1216 before returning to royal control after the war. The castle was attacked again during the Second Barons’ War in 1266.
In 1284, Edward I began greatly expanding the castle, rebuilding it in stone and creating a major four-sided fortress with circular towers at each corner, guarded by a gatehouse and a barbican, and a circular stone keep on the motte.
By the 15th century, the castle had fallen to ruins. The buildings were destroyed and the material re-purposed for constructing King’s College and Trinity College’s chapel. The gatehouse was used as a gaol until a new prison was built in 1811.
Getting to the Cambridge Castle Mound
Getting to the Castle Mound is really very easy. You can get to Castle Hill by car or by foot.
From the Cambridge city centre, the Castle Mound is a short 13 minute walk (less than a mile) up Bridge Street, which eventually becomes Castle Street a short time after crossing the River Cam.
Alternatively, you can drive to Castle Hill. The castle is just a short 8 minute drive by car from the city centre with cheap public parking at the Castle Street Car Park.
Visiting the Cambridge Castle Mound
All that’s left of Cambridge Castle today are the 33 foot high motte (the mound) and some surrounding earthworks.
The Castle Mound is free to visit and free to hike to the top. This is the tallest point in Cambridge, so you get a great view of the surrounding city.
A sign at the bottom of the mound outlines Cambridge Castle’s history and what part of the surrounding area would have been occupied by the castle grounds.
Hours: Always open
Hotels Near Cambridge Castle Mound
Find a place to stay near Cambridge Castle Mound. Here are the closest hotels to this Norman castle:
- The Varsity Hotel & Spa
- Arundel House Hotel
- The Waterman
- The Fellows House Cambridge, Curio Collection by Hilton
- Ashley Hotel
Cambridge Castle Mound FAQ
What is the history of Castle Hill Cambridge?
Castle Hill in Cambridge is what’s left of Cambridge Castle, a Norman motte-and-baily style castle built by William the Conqueror in 1068. It played a role in the conflicts of the Anarchy, the First and Second Baron’s Wars, and the English Civil War.
Is Cambridge Castle still standing?
The only part of Cambridge Castle that is still left is the 33-foot high motte (the mound) and some surrounding earthworks.
Why was Cambridge Castle built?
William the Conqueror built Cambridge Castle in 1068 as a stronghold during his campaign to capture York. It’s purpose was to control the strategically important route to the north of England.
Does Cambridge have a castle?
Cambridge did have a castle, but there is no longer a fortress still standing. You can, however, visit the site of the old Cambridge Castle, what is called locally Castle Mound, and learn about the history of the fortress that once stood there.
When was Cambridge Castle destroyed?
Cambridge Castle fell into disrepair after the 15th century, and the walls and bastions were taken down in the 1780s. The buildings’ material was re-purposed for constructing King’s College and Trinity College’s chapel. The gatehouse was destroyed in the 1800s.
More Things to Do in Cambridge, England
Find even more fun things to see and do in Cambridge. Check out these posts for inspiration:
Ready to visit Cambridge Castle in Cambridge, England? Plan your trip with these tips.
- Book your flight: Find the cheapest flights using Skyscanner, my favorite flight search engine.
- Find accommodation: You can find top hotels in Cambridge using Booking.com.
- Get packing: Make sure you’ve packed everything you need with my packing list resources.
Have you climbed the Castle Mound in Cambridge, England? Tell me about your visit in the comments!