Motte and bailey castle, fishpond and moated site north and east of Aughton church


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


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

East Riding of Yorkshire (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SE 70268 38659

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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.

Around 6,000 moated sites are known in England. They consist of wide ditches, often or seasonally water-filled, partly or completely enclosing one or more islands of dry ground on which stood domestic or religious buildings. In some cases the islands were used for horticulture. The majority of moated sites served as prestigious aristocratic and seigneurial residences with the provision of the moat intended as a status symbol rather than a practical military defence. The peak period during which moated sites were built was between about 1250 and 1350 and by far the greatest concentration lies in central and eastern parts of England. However, moated sites were built throughout the medieval period, and are widely scattered throughout England and exhibit a high level of diversity in their forms and sizes. They form a significant class of monument and are important for the understanding of the distribution of wealth and status in the countryside. Many examples provide conditions favourable to the survival of organic remains. This complex monument demonstrates continued occupation through the medieval period which has continued up to the present day. Although this monument has been altered by the construction of a number of buildings, notably Aughton Hall and All Saint's Church and by garden works, it survives well as earthworks, and the motte mound remains undisturbed by later development. The complex will retain evidence of the structures which stood on the motte and the island of the moat and within the bailey. It will also contribute to an understanding of the relationship between the motte and bailey castle and the moat, and between these monuments and the church.


The monument is a medieval complex on the eastern bank of the River Derwent. It includes a motte and bailey castle, additional earthen banks and ditches, fishponds, and a moated site situated immediately to the east of the castle bailey. A medieval church, set in a churchyard, lies to the south of the motte; it is believed to have been a component of the medieval complex. The round earthen mound, the motte of the medieval earthwork castle, which is 35m in diameter, rises above an earthen platform 50m long, north-south, and 35m wide, east-west, which is defined by a moat. This moat is up to 10m wide and 2m deep. The motte mound does not occupy the whole platform, the northern end of which has a fishpond dug into it. The silted pond is 23m long, east- west, 8m wide, north-south, and 0.5m deep. Immediately external and running parallel to the moat's western arm are two earthen banks and a heavily silted ditch. The parallel banks are between 0.3m and 0.5m high; both are 3m wide. The ditch, which is external to the banks, is 3m wide and 0.15m deep. The north end of both the banks and ditch have been truncated by the planting of a hedge, to the south they have been obscured by the grave yard. The bailey is situated immediately to the south east of the motte and its moated platform. It is 90m square north-south and east-west and is defined by a dry moat up to 2m deep and between 10m and 15m wide. Much of the moat's eastern arm has been in-filled apart from a 30m long section at its southern end. The inside edge of this and the southern arm have been cut back and faced in brick to create a ha-ha. The interior of the bailey has been levelled and landscaped to create the gardens of Aughton Hall which stands within it. This landscaping, carried out in the 19th century, has removed any visible trace of internal features including any earthen ramparts which commonly enclose baileys in monuments of this type. To the north of the moat there is a disturbed and boggy area of ground. This uneven ground indicates the presence of at least one medieval fishpond which was used as a potato dump and in-filled some years ago. Further moat-like ditches situated to both north and south of the motte and bailey provide extra protection for the site. The southern ditch is 10m wide and 2m deep. This ditch originally ran through the area now occupied by the churchyard to link up with the ditch immediately external to the moat around the motte's western arm. Where it has been incorporated in the churchyard it has been in-filled. The northern ditch may also have connected with this western ditch but the relationship here is unclear since the northern ditch has been in-filled and remains visible only on aerial photographs. The moated site lies 250m east of All Saints' Church. It includes a sub-rectangular island about 40m square which is defined by a moat. The northern and western arms of the moat are largely dry and in-filled. They are 12m wide and up to 0.5m deep. The southern and eastern arms have been recut to create a large fishpond; these arms are 15m wide and up to 2m deep. Examination of aerial photographs suggests that the recutting has been quite substantial. A modern fishpond 38m long, north-south, 9m wide, east-west, and 1.5m deep lies to the east of the moated site. This feature lies outside the area of the scheduling and was only excavated in recent years. Little is known about the origins of the monument although it is likely that the motte was built in the years following the Norman Conquest of 1066 to watch the River Ouse and guard the approaches to York. In the later medieval period the complex was the property of the Aske family. Robert Aske was one of the leaders of the Pilgrimage of Grace, the rebellion against Henry VIII's Dissolution of the Monasteries. Although the Church of All Saints, which has 11th century origins, is considered to be a part of the wider medieval complex it remains in ecclesiastical usage and neither it nor the churchyard are included within the scheduling. Excluded from the scheduling, though clearly originally a part of it, is Aughton Hall and the part of the Hall's gardens to north and south of it. The house is excluded because it has been cellared, while those areas of the garden excluded have been thoroughly disturbed by gardening, building and terracing.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


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

Legacy System number:
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Books and journals
Bulmer, T, History and Directory of East Yorkshire, (1892), 544
Clark, G T , Medieval Military Architecture in England, (1884), 146
Le Patourel, H E J, Moated site of Yorkshire, (1973), 109
Le Patourel, H E J, Moated site of Yorkshire, (1973), 109
Sheahan, , Whellan, , History and Topography of York And The East Riding, (1856), 592
CUC BSC 002/003, CUC BSC 002/003,
Ordnance Survey , 541/30/3047-48,


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.

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