History shows that military strategists have been using the land overlooking the Avon on which Warwick Castle now stands from at least 914 AD. It was then that Ethelfleda, daughter of Alfred the Great, ordered a defensive post to built there to protect against Danish invaders from the North.
The first records of a castle proper at Warwick date to 1068. This stockade was built on the orders of William the Conqueror and bore little resemblance to the great fortress that we know today. Built on a cliff overlooking the river Avon, the original castle was a simple timber construction with a square watch tower the site of which can still be visited at The Mound within the castle grounds. In front of the tower the castle stretched across flat land. This area was surrounded by a wooden fence and beyond that a deep, wide ditch which helped to defend against intruders.
Stewardship of Warwick Castle was given by William The Conqueror to Henry de Beaumont in 1068. De Beaumont took the name de Newburgh and the castle passed down the line of de Newburgh descendents until 1242. Records show that in this time the structure of the castle saw many changes and that by 1260 the castle had already grown to include a Great Hall and Chapel.
By the mid 13th century Warwick Castle was beginning to transform into a stronghold, becoming increasingly fortified against would-be invaders. The early wooden construction was gone and was now almost entirely replaced with stone, a deep moat like ditch had been dug around the castle and a gatehouse with drawbridge had been added. The old timber watch tower had made way for a stone Keep complete with fighting platforms and ‘safe’ rooms. Warwick Castle was fast becoming a fortress castle; able to withstand attacks from enemies and prospective invaders, a militarily strategic castle from which attacks could be launched and a safe house which was able to offer protection and sanctuary to those who lived within the castle walls.