The castle was originally built in 1071 for William the Conqueror, to enable the Normans to control the area. A prison was built within the castle, which continued to be in use until 1996.
The prison was mainly used to house prisoners from Oxfordshire and Berkshire, and also the University's 'rebellious scholars' (as recorded in 1236). From 1613 until 1785, the prison and castle were owned by Christ Church, who leased the jail (gaol) to prison keepers. In 1785 it was redeveloped into a prison and house of correction, with a tower on which they held public executions. The last execution was in 1863.
A large, grassy mound, St. George's Tower, and the base of a round tower still remain.
* Events listed in purple denote child friendly activities
Tuesday 01 May -
Geocaching Explorers Discover Oxford’s Hidden History
Throughout May, the Castle will be spreading its hidden history a little further by planting 12 geocaches across Oxfordshire with vintage keys concealed inside that the lucky discoverers can exchange for free entry to the visitor attraction. As the weather gets warmer and the population gets out and about, geocaching is the perfect activity for family and friends of all ages to enjoy together. As a real-world outdoor treasure hunting game, players try to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, using GPS-enabled devices and then share their experiences online at http://www.geocaching.com. Traditional Geocaching rules dictate that the keys concealed inside the Oxford Castle – Unlocked geocache can only be taken if an item is left in its place, thus carrying on the geocaching chain.
Saturday 07 December - Saturday 21 December
Santa vs Scrooge
Oxford Castle Unlocked have created a Christmas experience to remember, with families invited to explore the castle and encounter well-known characters from the festive season including the much-loved Santa and the more daunting Scrooge. On Saturday 7, 14 and 21 December between 5.30pm and 7pm, families will be challenged to convince Scrooge to celebrate Christmas with sweet treats on offer for all who complete the mission. Tiny Tim, the Christmas Fairy and Angel will be on hand to help families along and guide visitors to meet Santa too. Book online
Fun Facts about the Oxford Castle
Spy Games featuring Brad Pitt was filmed on site.
Inspector Morse was filmed on the site, as well as Bad Girls and The Bill.
102 Dalmatians featured Oxford Castle in 2000.
The o3 gallery got its name from being the third ‘O’ in the collaboration between Oxford Castle and OVADA (Oxfordshire's Visual Arts Development Agency).
The o3 gallery used to be a day room for prisoners! It forms part of the old Oxford Prison C-Wing.
O3 stocks Tatty Devine, a quirky, sought-after jewellery brand popular with fashionistas.
Oxford Castle is nearly 1000 years old.
Her Majesty the Queen opened Oxford Castle to the public in 2006.
When a prisoner was ‘sent down’ it meant he was sent down a tunnel leading from the County courtroom into Oxford Prison. There are only 2 of these tunnels in the country.
There were public hangings on the site until 1863.
Oxford Prison is thought to be one of the most haunted places in England.
In the first four years the site has attracted 334 jobs, 11 businesses and 5,400 learning opportunities.
Food and Drink at the castle
O3 Art Gallery
6 Oxford Castle
2 Oxford Castle
La Tasca Tapas Bar
5 Oxford Castle
3 Oxford Castle
0845 365 4247
Adjacent to Mound
The Big Bang
42 Oxford Castle