Reasons for Designation
Motte 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-bai1ey 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 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 and motte-and-bailey castles are recorded nationally, with examples known from most regions. Some 100-150 examples do not have baileys and are classified as motte castles. 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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.
The motte immediately south east of Nook Farm is well-preserved as an earthwork and will contain archaeological deposits relating to its construction, use and abandonment. The monument provides insight into the character and development of fortifications in the medieval period. Its significance is enhanced because it appears to be sited to control passage along the former Stanegate Roman Road, showing how the legacy of the Romans continued to influence land use into the medieval period.
The monument includes the remains of a motte of medieval date, situated on level ground about half way between Hadrian's Wall to the north west and the River Irthing to the south east. The motte is built on the south east side of the village of Irthington which is sited on Stanegate Roman road. The motte, which is preserved as an earthwork, includes a conical mound, surrounded by a low bank and an infilled ditch, with the remains of a low breastwork at its summit.
PastScape Monument No:- 11589
Cumbria HER:- 217