Castle Hill motte and bailey castle


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
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Ordnance survey map of Castle Hill motte and bailey castle
© Crown Copyright and database right 2020. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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This copy shows the entry on 31-Mar-2020 at 09:26:49.


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

North Yorkshire
Craven (District Authority)
Burton in Lonsdale
National Grid Reference:
SD 64977 72125

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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.

Castle Hill is a well preserved example of this rare monument type.


Castle Hill is a very fine example of a motte and bailey castle situated on the west side of the village of Burton in Lonsdale. The 9.6m high motte retains a breastwork wall 3.3m high around the upper part of the mound. In places the stonework is still visible through the grass on the inner face. A nearly square bailey, 57m by 51m, is situated on the west side of the motte and a semi-lunar bailey, 21m wide and some 2m-3m above the base of the ditch, is situated to the south. The ditch around the motte is best preserved on the west side; on the north side it merges with the steep natural slope down to the road. A counterscarp or outer bank runs from north to east where it disappears into a raised level platform which fills much of the area between the motte and farmyard. Excavations carried out in 1904 by H White and J C Walker found that the motte, baileys, ditches and banks had all been paved. From the evidence produced by the excavation it is now generally accepted that the site originated as a ringwork in the 12th or early 13th century and after a considerable lapse of time was raised with the addition of an inner revetment wall to form a motte. The site went out of use at some time during the period 1322-1369. Excluded from the scheduling are all modern fences although the ground beneath them is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


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

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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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