Sigston Castle: an enclosure castle 400m north of Kirby Sigston church
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1008207
Date first listed: 18-Dec-1946
Date of most recent amendment: 18-Feb-1994
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This copy shows the entry on 23-Mar-2019 at 12:55:28.
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
County: North Yorkshire
District: Hambleton (District Authority)
Parish: Winton, Stank and Hallikeld
National Grid Reference: SE 41653 95152
Reasons for Designation
A quadrangular castle is a strongly fortified residence built of stone, or
sometimes brick, around a square or rectangular courtyard. The outer walls
formed a defensive line, frequently with towers sited on the corners and
occasionally in intermediate positions as well. Some of the very strongly
defended examples have additional external walls. Ditches, normally wet but
sometimes dry, were also found outside the walls. Two main types of
quadrangular castle have been identified. In the southern type, the angle and
intermediate mural towers were most often round in plan and projected markedly
from the enclosing wall. In the northern type, square angle towers, often of
massive proportions, were constructed, these projecting only slightly from the
main wall. Within the castle, accommodation was provided in the towers or in
buildings set against the walls which opened onto the central courtyard. An
important feature of quadrangular castles was that they were planned and built
to an integrated, often symmetrical, design. Once built, therefore, they did
not lend themselves easily to modification. The earliest and finest examples
of this class of castle are found in Wales, dating from 1277, but they also
began to appear in England at the same time. Most examples were built in the
14th century but the tradition extended into the 15th century. Later examples
demonstrate an increasing emphasis on domestic comfort to the detriment of
defence and, indeed, some late examples are virtually defenceless. They
provided residences for the king or leading families and occur in both rural
and urban situations. Quadrangular castles are widely dispersed throughout
England with a slight concentration in Kent and Sussex protecting a vulnerable
coastline and routes to London. Other concentrations are found in the north
near the Scottish border and also in the west on the Welsh border. They are
rare nationally with only 64 recorded examples of which 44 are of southern
type and 20 are of northern type. Considerable diversity of form is exhibited
with no two examples being exactly alike. With other types of castle, they are
major medieval monument types which, belonging to the highest levels of
society, frequently acted as major administrative centres and formed the foci
for developing settlement patterns. Castles generally provide an emotive and
evocative link to the past and can provide a valuable educational resource,
both with respect to medieval warfare and defence, and to wider aspects of
medieval society. All examples retaining significant remains of medieval date
are considered to be of national importance.
Although the castle walls have been largely demolished to provide stone for later buildings in the vicinity, the moat, part of the curtain wall and the undercroft of the keep survive as earthworks while other features, such as the foundations of internal buildings, will survive below ground. The silts accumulated in the boggy areas of the moat will also contain organic materials. Because of its close proximity to the deserted medieval village of Kirby Sigston and to other medieval remains such as ridge and furrow field- systems, Sigston Castle has important potential for the study of the development of the medieval rural landscape.
The monument includes Sigston Castle, a 14th century enclosure castle situated
400m north of Kirby Sigston church. The castle lies on gently sloping land at
the western edge of the floodplain of the Cod Beck stream and on the south
side of a dry valley containing a piped tributary to the Cod Beck. Although
they are not included in the scheduling, fields to the north of the castle
contain extensive ridge and furrow earthworks indicating that they were in
arable cultivation during the medieval period. The medieval village of Kirby
Sigston, with which the castle must have been associated, is now deserted but
survives as earthworks adjacent to the church.
Although over the years the walls of the castle have been demolished to
provide stone for buildings in the vicinity, the moat which surrounded it
survives as an open ditch and, in places, the foundations of the curtain walls
and central keep remain as upstanding earthworks. The castle has a trapezoidal
plan, the moated island measuring 140m north-south by 110m east-west. The moat
is up to 15m wide and varies between 8m deep on the uphill, north-western arm
to 1m deep on the south-eastern arm which runs along the bottom of the slope
at the edge of the floodplain. A 10m wide outer bank lies along the south-
western, north-western and north-eastern arms of the moat and, although it has
been altered in places by drainage works, road construction and possibly by
quarrying, it survives up to 1.5m high on the north-western arm.
There is no evidence of an outer bank along the south-eastern arm but it is
thought that such a feature was not needed here, as the floodplain is likely
to have been a marsh in the medieval period. The best-preserved part of the
curtain wall lies on the inner edge of the north-western arm, where it
survives as a 1.5m high, 4m wide bank containing fragments of building stone
and a 0.3m high, 4m wide bank is also visible along the inner edges of the
north-eastern and south-eastern arms; elsewhere the foundations will survive
below ground. A modern causeway across the north-western arm of the moat
indicates the position of the original entrance to the castle; it is aligned
with the centre of the north-western side of the keep. This was a rectangular
tower measuring 30m by 25m across at its base and its foundations survive as
earth-covered banks. The space enclosed by these banks was the undercroft of
the keep, the western corner of which has been removed apparently to
facilitate the removal of stonework during the demolition and robbing of the
tower. Other, less clearly defined earthworks to the south of the keep mark
the location of ancillary structures within the castle.
John de Sigston acquired the land in 1313 and the castle was built shortly
after this; a licence to crenellate was granted in 1336.
All fences and the made surfaces of the farm tracks are excluded from the
scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included.
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: 20533
Legacy System: RSM
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