The post-medieval castle is often neglected in English archaeology, with most analyses focusing on whether the castle was built for status or defence, a debate which has become known as ‘the Battle for Bodiam’. However, in the English Civil War between 1642 and 1651, many castles were fortified either for King Charles I or his rebellious Parliament. Although the fortification of castles during this period is often attributed to acts of desperation and a lack of more suitable defences, an examination of the Royalist occupation of Sandal Castle in West Yorkshire demonstrates how this view is simplistic. The decision to fortify Sandal can be directly linked to the Battle of Wakefield in 1460, when Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York, the father of King Edward IV and Richard III, was killed outside its walls. This episode heavily influenced subsequent events, culminating in the occupation of the castle at the outbreak of the English Civil War. The importance of the past during this later conflict is reinforced by the faunal and artefactual assemblages, and the locations in which they were found (and consumed). The complexity of the social discourse at Sandal challenges current approaches in castle studies and highlights the need for a biographical approach which sees the interpretation and interaction of the castle through time and space as far more important than the motivations behind its initial construction. Such a way of proceeding complements existing methodologies but also relies on material culture and history to create a subtler interpretation of these complex buildings.