With its lone tower and man-made grassy mound, the once mighty Oxford Castle is now a shadow of its former self. But the striking landmark still offers a fascinating insight into the city’s grim and gory history. Originally built by William the Conqueror in 1071, the Norman Castle was later converted into a prison and execution tower, linked to the county court by an underground passageway and remaining in use until as late as 1996 (although the last public execution was held in 1863).
Today, the castle ruins stand at the heart of the Oxford Castle Quarter, an atmospheric hub of cafes, bars and restaurants, and is open to the public through via Oxford Castle Unlocked tours, typically led by a guide in period costume. As well as climbing the 101 steps to the top of the Saxon St. George’s Tower and taking in the views from the mound, visitors can brave a peek into the allegedly haunted crypt and explore the preserved prison wings, while uncovering the secret history of medieval Oxford.
Oxford Castle is located at the west end of Oxford City Center, a five-minute walk from the main train and bus stations. The castle is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and adult admission to the Oxford Castle is £9.95 per adult, with the last tour at 4:20 p.m.