Richmond Castle in Richmond, North Yorkshire, England, stands in a commanding position above the River Swale, close to the centre of the town of Richmond. It was originally called Riche Mount, ‘the strong hill’. The castle was constructed from 1071 onwards following the Norman Conquest of England, and the Domesday Book of 1086 refers to ‘a castlery’ at Richmond.
In 1069 William the Conqueror had put down a rebellion at York which was followed by his “harrying of the North” – an act of ethnic cleansing which depopulated large areas for a generation or more. As a further punishment, he divided up the lands of north Yorkshire among his most loyal followers. Alan Rufus, of Brittany, received the borough of Richmond and began constructing the castle to defend against further rebellions and to establish a personal power base. His holdings, called the Honour of Richmond, covered parts of eight counties and amounted to one of the most extensive Norman estates in England. The Dukes of Brittany became the owners of the castle as Earls of Richmond though it was often confiscated for various periods by English Kings.