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were superseded by other types of castle.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 castle on Hood Hill represents a type of motte and bailey whose
configuration has been specifically adapted to suit its commanding situation.
Although the hillside has suffered slight landslips, these do not appear to
have dislodged any masonry and the foundations of buildings will survive. The
castle's history is well documented and it has documented associations with
the two rebellious noblemen, de Stuteville and de Mobray, as well as King
The monument includes a motte and bailey castle occupying a commanding
position on the crest of a very prominent ridge, about 800m west of the main
range of the Hambleton Hills. As the ridge itself is very steep and not
easily accessible, the formation of the stronghold required only slight
modification of the summit. A 10m wide ditch is cut into the slope on the
west side, about 10m below the crest and approximately level with the 250m
contour, with the resultant spoil deposited downslope to form a 2m high outer
bank. The top of the hill has been flattened off to give a relatively level
platform measuring up to 40m north-south by 20m east-west and there is a
slightly lower platform to the north but this is less clearly defined.
Although some subsidence has occurred, mainly on the east-facing slopes, there
is no evidence that this has damaged any structures in the castle.
This fortress has been identified as the site of Hood Castle which was
constructed by Robert de Stuteville (1086-1106) and passed to Henry I after de
Stuteville's downfall. A license to crenellate with a ditch and stone wall
was granted in 1264 and the castle is last mentioned in 1322.
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 5 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.