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were superseded by other types of castle.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 Hall Hill is a well-preserved example of an early motte and bailey
castle whose historical associations are well-documented. The relatively
undisturbed nature of the castle mound indicates that the remains of its keep
will survive well.
Castle Hall Hill motte and bailey castle is situated adjacent to the
nineteenth century parish church of St.Mary in Mirfield. The bailey is
occupied by the church and its graveyard, both of which are in current
ecclesiastical use, and this area is not at present included in the
The motte, which would have carried a timber keep, is a conical mound c.10m
high and with a diameter of c.20m surrounded by a ditch c.8m wide and 5m deep.
On the east side the ditch is divided by a causeway which joined the motte to
the bailey where ancillary and garrison buildings would have stood along with
pens for stock and horses. The castle was built between 1086 and 1159 either
by Svein son of Alric or by Adam his son. Its purpose was to oversee some of
the estates of the Honour of Pontefract of which these two men were
successively the most powerful knights. After Adam's death without male heirs
in 1159, the estate was divided and the castle reduced in status. It was not
abandoned, however, and was known as the castle of Mirfield throughout the
Middle Ages. Features which are excluded from the scheduling are the modern
walls and railings surrounding the monument and signs erected inside. The
ground beneath these exclusions is, however, included.
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.