Castle Howe motte and bailey


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1008900

Date first listed: 30-Aug-1922

Date of most recent amendment: 19-Aug-1994


Ordnance survey map of Castle Howe motte and bailey
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Cumbria

District: South Lakeland (District Authority)

Parish: Kendal

National Grid Reference: SD 51287 92386


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.

Despite landscaping of the bailey to create a public park, Castle Howe motte and bailey survives reasonably well. It is of particular importance as being one of a group of early post Conquest (late 11th century) motte and baileys established along the river valleys of north west England. These sites were all of strategic importance allowing control of movement along the river valley. More importantly, however, was their role in imposing and demonstrating the new post Conquest feudal order on the area.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes Castle Howe motte and bailey castle in Kendal. The site is strategically situated on a hillside spur overlooking the Kent valley and the town of Kendal, and includes a round flat-topped motte 11m high which measures c.18m in diameter across the summit and approximately 46m in diameter at the base. It is surrounded on the north and south sides by a ditch up to 7m wide by 1.5m deep which has been cut across a tongue of limestone bedrock. Some of the upcast from this ditch has been used to form a rampart or bank up to 5m wide and 1m high on the outside of the ditch to the north of the motte. To the east of the motte there is a triangular bailey, known locally as `Battle Place', which is protected by steep natural slopes on the east and south sides. The motte and bailey was constructed in the latter years of the 11th century for the barony of Kendal and was occupied by Ketel, son of Eldred, in 1092. The summit of the motte was surrounded by a breastwork, traces of which have now disappeared above ground level. As additional protection for the bailey a terrace was cut some 12m below the level on the steep slope to the east. This terrace has now become a road called Garth Head. The motte and bailey was probably abandoned about 1184 when a stone castle was built on the opposite side of the valley. A number of features are excluded from the scheduling; on the summit of the motte these include an obelisk, and a bench and the concrete setting in which the bench is fixed; elsewhere the motte retaining wall and all other walls and railings are excluded, as are all telegraph poles and the surfaces of all the paths; the ground beneath all these features 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: 23703

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Curwen, J E, 'Trans Cumb & West Antiq & Arch Soc. Extra Series' in Castles And Towers of Cumberland And Westmorland, , Vol. 13, (1913), 30-31
Leach, P.E., MPP Single Monument Class Descriptions - Motte & Bailey Castles, (1988)
RCHME, Westmorland, (1936)

End of official listing