Rufus Castle is illuminated at night
Rufus Castle is illuminated at night


A striking Norman Castle built on a rocky promintory overlooking Church Ope Cove on the Isle of Portland.

Rufus castle

Rufus Castle was probably built for William II (called "Rufus" for his red hair). It is likely that the structure we see today was the keep of a larger castle. Little remains of that first castle, with the possible exception of the arch that spans the path from Church Ope Road.

In 1142, Robert, Earl of Gloucester, captured the castle from King Stephen on behalf of Empress Maud, and a license to rebuild was granted in 1258. The castle was rebuilt in the 15th century, and much of what remains dates from this time.

The castle is constructed in the form of a pentagon, and the 7-foot-thick walls are pierced by numerous loop-holes meant to allow archers to fire upon attackers. This gives rise to the castle's alternative name; "Bow and Arrow" Castle.

The best views of Rufus Castle are from the shore of Church Ope Cove or the small ledge that houses the remains of 12th century St Andrew's Church, halfway down the cliffs. Access by a steep stair from the castle viewing platform.

Getting There

Walking access via Church Ope Road, off Wakeham Street, Portland. There is parking in a free lot just south of Church Ope Road.