Sandal Castle – 11th Century

27/5/1085On 27th May 1085, Gundred, Countess of Surrey, wife of William de Warenne, 1st Earl of Surrey (possible founder of the castle at Wakefield, precursor to de Warenne’s son’s castle at Sandal Castle), died at Castle Acre in Norfolk and was buried at Lewes Priory. Both Gundred’s and de Warenne’s lead chests containing their remains were discovered in October 1845 during excavations within the Priory grounds for the Brighton, Lewes and Hastings railway.
24/6/1088On 24th June 1088, William de Warenne, 1st Earl of Surrey, died after being mortally wounded in the siege of Pevensey Castle. He was buried next to his wife, Gundred, at Lewes Priory. William's son, the 2nd Earl of Surrey, founded Sandal Castle.
14/10/1066On 14th October 1066, the Battle of Hastings was fought between William of Normandy and King Harold. One of William’s most trusted advisers and supporters who fought by his side at Hastings was William de Warenne, the son of Ralph de Warenne and Emma. William, like the de Lacy family at Pontefract, was granted land in recognition of his support. It is possible that the first castle to be built on the newly acquired manor of Wakefield was on Lowe Hill in the now Thornes Park, on the north bank of the Calder. This was a weaker defensive position than the now Sandal Castle. It would have been a timber castle built on a mound 30 feet high without any bailey, now visible.  It would have provided a small defensive enclosure whilst the new lord surveyed his lands. This area was excavated in 1953 but provided no dating evidence, and therefore it could have been an 11th century royal castle of modest proportions, or a 12th century castle initially for the lord, but subsequently for a constable, when the castle at Sandal, south of the Calder, was being built.