Liddel Strength motte and bailey castle and fortified tower house


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Location Description:
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Location Description:
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
Carlisle (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
NY 40202 74151

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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle. The remains of Liddel Strength motte and baileys are representative of their period and are very well-preserved as earthworks and buried remains. The monument provides insight into the character of fortified residences in the medieval period, particularly the development from motte and bailey castles to fortified tower houses. The monument will contain archaeological deposits relating to its construction, use and abandonment.


The monument includes the remains of a medieval motte and bailey castle with a double bailey and a later stone built fortified tower house all situated on a bluff overlooking a bend in the Liddel Water near its confluence with the River Esk. The steep natural slope on the northern side, down to the river, forms an integral part of the defences. At the centre of the monument is a motte with an inner bailey protected by a deep semi-circular ditch and rampart, with a second, outer bailey sited to the west defined by a deep ditch and rampart. All of these features are preserved as upstanding earthworks. The inner bailey measures approximately 48m north-south by 38m east-west, the outer bailey 85m north-south by 5m east-west and the top of the motte is around 12m in diameter. In addition, there are traces of a stone tower and a blockhouse at the gate both of which are preserved as buried foundations and low turf-covered banks. Documentary sources from 1281 indicate that the castle had a wooden hall, solars, cellars, chapel, kitchen, byre, grange and a granary. Further documentary sources from 1348 indicate that a stone tower, hall and chapel were built on the site.

SOURCES PastScape Monument No:- 11686, 975069 NMR:- NY47SW1, NY47SW6 Cumbria HER:- 33


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
CU 352
Legacy System:


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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