Barnard Castle

School Visits

Built to control a river crossing, this imposing medieval castle is set up on a high rock overlooking the River Tees. Building began on the castle after 1093 and much of what remains today has survived from the 12th and early 13th centuries. With its rich and often turbulent history, your class can explore the development of the castle and its buildings much favoured by the Duke of Gloucester, later Richard III.

“The trip gave the pupils a fantastic opportunity to embrace their local history."

Teacher, KS2

Image © Historic England Archive

Curriculum Links

Support your teaching in the classroom by stepping out of it. A visit to Barnard Castle will help you bring learning to life, covering multiple topics across the curriculum and key stages.

  • KS1-3 History: Local History Study
  • KS1 History: Significant historical events, people and places in their own locality
  • KS2 History: Study of an aspect or theme in British history that extends pupils’ chronological knowledge beyond 1066
  • KS3 History: The development of church, state and society in Britain 1066-1509 and 1509-1745
© Historic England Archive

Free Self-Led Visits

Book a free self-led visit to Barnard Castle and organise your day to suit your curriculum objectives. Explore the inner ward of the castle and try and find Richard III’s boar emblem carved above a window. Look out over the Tees gorge to see why the castle was built in this location.                                         

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Plan Your Trip

We have a wide range of materials to support your visit and make school trip planning easy. You can find all our site-specific information and tools below, and for Covid-19 risk assessments and measures we’ve got in place please visit our what to expect page.

Download our free resources to help you make the most out of your visit and create unique learning experiences before, during and after your trip. We also offer free planning visits once you have made a booking, plus a 20% discount on the official English Heritage guidebook for your place of choice.

Once you book your visit you’ll be sent a visit permit, which you’ll need to bring with you on the day.

Visit our bookings page to start planning your trip!

  • Facilities
    • PARKING: There is no parking on site, students can be dropped off near the entrance. Parking is available in the town, charges are payable.
    • TOILETS: One accessible toilet on site.
    • LUNCH: You are welcome to bring a picnic to enjoy in the grounds.
    • SHOP:  There is a gift shop selling English Heritage gifts and souvenirs. We recommend bringing your students in small groups at a time
    • EDUCATION ROOM or BAG STORAGE: There is no education room or bag storage available.
    • ACCESSIBILITY: Visitors with limited mobility can be dropped at the site entrance. There is level access on site with some ramps. Paths are smooth grass or compacted gravel. Upper floors are reached by spiral staircases.
    • WET WEATHER: The site is mainly outdoors with no cover. In the case of inclement weather, the site staff will do their best to accommodate you.
  • Hazard Information

    A useful tool to help with your risk assessments.

    You must meet the following ratios for leaders to students on the day of your visit when booking, and if your group is forming smaller groups while at the site:

    • Ages 4-5 (UK Reception) 1 leader for every 4 students (1:4)
    • Ages 5-7 (UK Key Stage 1) 1 leader for every 6 students (1:6)
    • Ages 7-11 (UK Key Stage 2) 1 leader for every 10 students (1:10) and
    • Ages 11-18 (UK Key Stages 3, 4, and 5) 1 leader for every 15 students (1:15)
    • For an adult learning group, consisting of individuals all over the age of 18, there are no ratios but there must be an appointed group leader
    • All ratios outlined above apply to home education groups
    • If your group consists of children aged 3 and/or 4, you must also refer to the Early Years and Foundation Stage Statutory Framework which sets out specific legal requirements for minimum ratios for this age group, to include requirements about the qualifications of the leaders
    • SEND groups must meet the minimum ratios above but may bring any additional leaders as required to adequately support their group
  • Education Site Opening Times

    We offer free self-led education visits during school term time*

    *Free education visits are not offered on UK public holidays or during the operation of additional fee paying public events at English Heritage sites.

    • April-October: Monday-Friday 10-5pm
    • November-March: Saturday-Sunday 10-4pm

Learning Resources

  • Teaching Medieval History

    Use historical information, learning activities and tips from our historians, curators and educational experts to support your teaching of medieval history.

  • How to Take a Medieval Castle

    Watch our short animation to learn more about how to take a medieval castle. 

  • A Mini Guide to Castles

    ​Discover how castles developed over time with this short introduction.