Reasons for Designation
Motte and bailey castles are medieval fortifications introduced into Britain by the Normans. They comprised a large conical mound of earth or rubble, the motte, surmounted by a palisade and a stone or timber tower. In a majority of examples an embanked enclosure containing additional buildings, the bailey, adjoined the motte. Motte castles and motte-and-bailey castles acted as garrison forts during offensive military operations, as strongholds, and, in many cases, as aristocratic residences and as centres of local or royal administration. Built in towns, villages and open countryside, motte and bailey castles generally occupied strategic positions dominating their immediate locality and, as a result, are the most visually impressive monuments of the early post-Conquest period surviving in the modern landscape. Over 600 motte castles or motte-and-bailey castles are recorded nationally, with examples known from most regions. As one of a restricted range of recognised early post-Conquest monuments, they are particularly important for the study of Norman Britain and the development of the feudal system. Although many were occupied for only a short period of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.
Castlehaw Tower, motte and bailey castle is highly representative of its period and is well-preserved as an upstanding earthwork with associated buried remains. The monument provides insight into the character and development of medieval fortifications and will contain archaeological deposits relating to its construction, use and abandonment. The re-use of the site during the Cold War in the 1960s for a Royal Observer Corps monitoring post adds additional significance to the monument.
The monument includes the remains of a medieval motte and bailey castle, sited on a rise overlooking the centre of Sedbergh to the west and a river crossing to the south east. The motte is oval in plan, stands approximately 10m high with a 9m diameter top. It is surrounded by a wide ditch on all sides except to the south where there is a steep scarp. Beyond the ditch to the north and east there is a partial bank. The bailey is to the west of the motte and survives as a level platform about 30m long by 20m wide standing 0.5m above the surrounding ground level. Dug into the bailey are the remains of a Royal Observer Corps monitoring post. This subterranean concrete structure, approximately 5m by 2.5m, was opened during June 1965 and closed in October 1968 and was one of a national network of posts designed to monitor nuclear explosions and radioactive fallout in the event of a nuclear attack.
Modern boundary walls that cross the monument are excluded from the scheduling, however the ground beneath is included.
PastScape Monument No:- 44165
Cumbria HER:- 2096
This list entry was subject to a Minor Amendment on 13 April 2022 to correct a typo.