Rufus Castle, Dorset

by Ben Johnson

Remains of 15th century castle with Norman keep. Built on a rocky promontory on the Isle of Portland in Dorset, it is possible that the first castle on this site was built for William II, who was called Rufus due to his red hair. In 1142 during the civil war known as The Anarchy, Robert Earl of Gloucester captured the castle from King Stephen on behalf of Empress Maud.

Rebuilt in the 15th century, much of what remains today dates from this time with the exception of a single arch which can be seen on the approach from Chuch Ope Road.

Interestingly, the castle is also known as ‘Bow and Arrow Castle’ due to the fact that the 7 foot thick walls are dotted with umpteen ‘loop-holes’ which allowed archers to fire at any invading forces trying their luck! The north and western parts of these walls still stand at their original height.

Above: Empress Maud, who captured the castle (with help from Robert, Earl of Gloucester) in 1142 during ‘The Anarchy’.

Rufus Castle has free entry and open access at any reasonable time.

Rufus Castle

Update : For a full list of English castles, be sure to check out our brand new interactive map here.

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