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BISHOP RUFUS PALACE

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Site of motte and bailey castle and an adjacent fortified palace of the Bishops of Durham. The first record of the castle at Northallerton is in 1130 when Bishop Rufus built the motte and bailey as a residence. The castle was either rebuilt or enlarged in 1142 by Bishop Cumin and further work was carried out by Bishop Pudsey in 1174. By 1176 the castle had been razed to the ground on the orders of King Henry II. After this a more substantial fortified palace surrounded by a moat was built to replace the traditional motte and bailey castle. The palace was in use by 1199. Renovation work was carried out in 1226, 1292 and 1309. There is a reference in the early 14th century to a pele tower being built at the palace. The palace was an important centre for the administration of the bishops' lands in Yorkshire and served as a major residence for the bishops and their staff. The palace lay on the main road from York to Durham and was a regular stopping place for royalty and other dignitaries. Described by Leland in good condition circa 1535-43. It was a ruin by 1658. The site is now a cemetery.

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