Before the Norman Conquest, the land around Middleham was owned by the Dane, Gilpatric.
After the conquest, Middleham and other lands, were given by William I, to his
nephew Alan the Red, 1st Earl of Richmond who probably built a simple motte and bailey castle just south west of the present stone castle.
By 1086 Alan had granted it to his brother, Ribald. It eventually came into the possession of Ribald’s grandson Robert fitzRanulph who financed the building of the great hall keep we see today,
which was probably built c.1176.
One could hazard a guess as to who would have been capable of such tremendous architectural undertakings. Richard de Wolveston and Ailnoth come to mind as they were both eminent military engineers, working in the north of England at that time. Because of the similarities with Norham Castle,
I would favour the former.
In 1270 the property passed to Robert Neville by his marriage to Mary, daughter of Ralph fitzRanulph.
On the death of Richard Earl of Warwick in 1471 the castle was given to Richard, Duke of Gloucester, later to become King Richard III,
It remained crown property after Richard’s death until the reign of King James I,
when it was sold to Sir Henry Lindley.
During the Civil War it was captured and slighted by Parliamentary troops.
It is now administered by English Heritage and is open to the public.
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