Pickering Castle

School Visits

Pickering demonstrates the layout of the earliest castles perfectly. It is built in the traditional motte and bailey style and uses a system of ditches and walls to provide defensive features to the homes of nobles, granted to them by William the Conqueror, as he strove to establish rule over the kingdom in the decades after 1066. You and your group can visit free of charge and an education room can be provided on request.

"Our students loved the experience and the comparison of the different castles and abbey and how they fitted into the landscape then and now. It really brings the topic to life”

Teacher, KS3

Curriculum Links

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

  • KS1 History: significant historical events, people and places in the locality
  • KS2 History: study of an aspect or theme in British history that extends pupil’s chronological knowledge beyond 1066, a local history study
  • KS2 Geography: Types of settlement and land use
  • KS3 History: The Development of Church, State and Society in Medieval Britain 1066 – 1509, A local history study
  • KS4: Early Medieval History, OCR History A: Study of the Historic Environment, OCR History B: History around us, AQA Section B: British Depth Studies – historic environment and Norman and Medieval England
  • KS5 History: OCR unit Y103/Y133; England 1199 – 1272; Edexcel Route A Paper 2, Anglo-Saxon England and the Anglo-Norman Kingdom, c 1053-1106

Free Self-Led Visits

Book a free self-led visit to Pickering Castle and organise your day to suit your curriculum objectives.

Immerse your class in the Norman world as they enter the site through the once well defended gatehouse. They can cross the bailey –the service area for the castle, and then enter the inner ward to ascend the motte to where the keep once stood.

There is a fully reconstructed chapel for you to explore before descending into the ditch around the motte, which gives first-hand experience of the scale of the place. Can your class find the ovens and identify latrine chutes as they look around?

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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: No coach parking on site. Please use Eastgate Car Park and follow instructions on your visit permit.
    • TOILETS: There are toilets, including disabled on site in the car park area.
    • LUNCH: Picnics can be eaten on site. In wet weather, the Education room can be used if booked in advance.
    • SHOP:   Small shop on site. Please visit in small groups.
    • EDUCATION ROOM or BAG STORAGE: Education room is available if booked in advance and bags can be stored here.
    • ACCESSIBILITY:  There are level areas within the castle. The paths are of rough gravel and there are steep steps up the motte and into the ditch around it which make wheel chair access difficult. Most of the site is grass with many smooth areas. There is a wheelchair ramp into the chapel.
    • WET WEATHER: The chapel is under cover and the Education room can be booked. The rest of the site is open air and therefore wet weather provision is very limited.
  • 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-Sunday 10-5pm
    • November-March: No bookings can be taken at the current time

Learning Resources

  • Pickering Castle Activity Trail (KS2-KS3)

    Explore Pickering Castle with our activity trail and investigate how and why this historic environment changed over time. 

  • Pickering Castle Education Room Activities (KS2-3)

    Use our guide to the history and STEM-focused activities available in the education room at Pickering Castle to get the most out of your visit. 

  • Teaching Anglo-Saxons and Normans

    Use historical information, learning activities and tips from our historians, curators and educational experts to support your teaching of the Anglo-Saxons and Normans.

  • A Brief History of the Normans

    Learn more about the origins of the Normans, the dispute between Harold Godwinson and William the Conqueror and how the Normans took control of England in this short animation.

  • Harold vs. William - Whose Crown?

    Find out why there was a succession crisis in 1066 and whether William of Normandy or Harold Godwinson had a stronger claim to the English throne with this short animation.

  • Teaching Medieval History

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

  • A Mini Guide to Castles

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

  • How to Take a Medieval Castle

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