Castle Hill motte, Dolphinholme


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1010794

Date first listed: 17-May-1991


Ordnance survey map of Castle Hill motte, Dolphinholme
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This copy shows the entry on 16-Dec-2018 at 15:24:46.


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

County: Lancashire

District: Lancaster (District Authority)

Parish: Ellel

National Grid Reference: SD 52048 53620


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

Reasons for Designation

Motte 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-bai1ey 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 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 and motte-and-bailey castles are recorded nationally, with examples known from most regions. Some 100-150 examples do not have baileys and are classified as motte castles. 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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.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 medieval motte at Dolphinholme is of particular historical and archaeological importance as the only known example of this class of monument in the Wyre Valley. In such a setting the site was of strategic importance allowing control of movement along the river valley.


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


The monument at Dolphinholme comprises a medieval motte formed by an artificial mound strategically situated on a small plateau on the valley side some 20m above the floodplain of the River Wyre. The monument consists of a grassy mound c.1.5m high x 20m max. diameter at the base, that has been partly eroded by quarrying on the W side. On the flat summit are gritstone foundations comprising two walls of a structure standing one course high above the surface. On the N side of the motte are traces of a short causeway giving access from the higher ground of the sloping hillside. Faint traces of a surrounding ditch c.1m wide are visible E of the causeway.

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: 13463

Legacy System: RSM


Leach, P.E., MPP Single Monument Class Descriptions - Motte & Bailey Castles, (1988)
To Lancaster Univ. Archaeology Unit, Higham, M, (1987)

End of official listing