Barwick in Elmet large univallate hillfort and motte and bailey castle
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1010924
Date first listed: 27-Sep-1949
Date of most recent amendment: 10-Jul-1992
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Leeds (Metropolitan Authority)
Parish: Barwick in Elmet and Scholes
National Grid Reference: SE 39837 37495, SE 39920 37692
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
Reasons for Designation
Large univallate hillforts are enclosures defined by a single line of earthworks located on or near the tops of hills. The scale and function of the earthworks, which may comprise a rampart, a ditch and a counterscarp bank, is massive and assumed to be defensive though large univallate hillforts may have been built on the sites of earlier non-defensive enclosures such as slight univallate hillforts. In area, large univallate hillforts vary between l and 10 hectares. Most large univallate hillforts were built between the fourth century BC and the first century AD, though a small number were built as early as the sixth century BC. Between 50 and 100 examples are recorded nationally, most occurring in southern England with a smaller number being located in central and western England and a very few being found in West and North Yorkshire. Common features of large univallate hillforts include one or two inturned entrances, internal quarry scoops or ditches, guardrooms and approach roads, while the interiors of large univallate hillforts reveal a high density of structural features such as roads, roundhouses, raised granaries, pits, drains and fencelines. These reflect the high status and permanent occupation of large univallate hillforts whose massive defences are also thought to have provided a deliberate reminder of the power of the inhabitants. Large univallate hillforts therefore provide an important commentary on the nature of settlement and social organisation in the Iron Age and are one of the rarer classes of monument belonging to the period. All examples with surviving archaeological deposits are considered to be of national importance. Motte and bailey castles are medieval fortifications of a type introduced into Britain by the Normans. They comprised a large conical mound of earth or rubble, the motte, surmounted by a palisade and stone or timber tower and adjoined by an embanked enclosure, the bailey, which contained additional buildings. Motte and bailey castles had several functions. They were strongholds, acted as garrison forts during offensive military operations, were often aristocratic residences and were the centres of local and royal administration. Built in towns, villages and open countryside, they generally occupied strategic positions, dominating their immediate locality. Over 600 are recorded nationally, with examples known from most regions. As such, and as one of a restricted range of 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 time, they continued to be built from the eleventh to the thirteenth centuries, in some cases forming the basis of the stone castles of the later Middle Ages. The monument at Barwick in Elmet is a good and reasonably well-preserved example of large univallate hillfort. It lies outside the main distribution and is one of only a small number outside Wessex whose internal area is above the middle of the scale of l to 10 hectares. Very little of the surviving remains have been disturbed, making it of great importance to the study of this class of hillfort. Equally important are the well-preserved remains of the motte and bailey castle.
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
Barwick in Elmet lies between the rivers Wharfe and Aire, north of the Aire's
confluence with the River Calder. The monument comprises two areas
which include the remains of a large Iron Age univallate hillfort and a
twelfth century motte and bailey castle.
The Iron Age hillfort enclosed the tops of two adjacent hills, Wendel Hill
and Hall Tower Hill. The motte and bailey castle, though lying inside the
hillfort, occupied Hall Tower Hill only. The substantial remains of the bank
and ditch that enclosed the hillfort survive in a well-preserved state round
Wendel Hill, where it measures up to 4.5m from base to summit, and also to the
south-west of the motte on Hall Tower Hill, though here it was modified in the
twelfth century to form part of the medieval defences. In addition, the south
circuit of this bank and ditch, where it circled round the south side of Hall
Tower Hill and proceeded north-east to join the circuit round Wendel Hill, was
found when houses were built next to the motte in the 1960s. The remains of a
massive inturned entrance are visible in the northern circuit, on the
north-west side of Wendel Hill, and much of the interior of the hillfort is
preserved in the open areas behind the houses and premises along The Boyle.
Here the remains of a variety of associated features will survive below ground
and will include such features as the post-holes and trenches of buildings,
storage pits and hearths, and a variety of small finds indicative of the
occupations of people living within the hillfort. Coins dating to the second
century BC and first century AD have already been recovered.
The motte and bailey castle was built at the southern end of the hillfort and
comprised the motte, which stands c.15m high and is surrounded by a deep ditch
c.15m wide, and the bailey which extended to the north and east. The east
side of the bailey, which originally extended beyond the limits of the earlier
hillfort, has largely been built over by urban development within Barwick in
Elmet, but sufficient remains to contain ample buried evidence of the domestic
and garrison buildings that formerly occupied it. When the motte was built it
would have been crowned by a timber tower and palisade, but there is as yet no
evidence that this was ever replaced in stone. The castle was built by the de
Lacy family, who held the Honour of Pontefract throughout most of the Middle
Ages, and was the administrative centre of the northern part of the Honour; a
role it took over from the ringwork castle at Kippax. The de Lacys also held
the motte and bailey castle at Almondbury which, coincidentally, was also
built inside a hillfort. A number of features are excluded from the
scheduling. They include all modern walling and fencing, the surfaces of
paths, drives and yards, the buildings of the three houses on Elmwood Lane,
the buildings of Wendel House and the buildings belonging to Shin Brothers,
all garden fixtures such as greenhouses and sheds, and the farm buildings
associated with Bank Cottage. The ground beneath these features is, however,
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: 13299
Legacy System: RSM
Books and journals
Whittaker, T D, Loidis and Elmete, (1816)
Colman, F S, 'Thors. Pubs.' in History Of Barwick..., , Vol. 17, (1908)
Ramm, H, 'Rome and the Brigantes' in Native Settlements..., (1980)
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