Tower Hill motte castle, 370m north-east of Dinsdale Spa
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
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This copy shows the entry on 16-Sep-2019 at 15:29:36.
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Darlington (Unitary Authority)
- Middleton St. George
- National Grid Reference:
- NZ 34606 12312
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the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other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.
Tower Hill motte is very well preserved and is a good example of a motte castle. Such monuments are not common in County Durham. It will add to our knowledge and understanding of the spread of Norman occupation in Britain.
The monument includes a Norman motte situated in a prominent position
overlooking the River Tees. The motte, circular in plan and flat topped, is
constructed upon a partly natural mound. It is 5.5m high and 22m in diameter
across the top and 50m across the base. The surrounding ditch, which has been
infilled, lies beneath the path which has been constructed around the
perimeter of the motte. The motte was constructed in this strategic position
in order to dominate and control the passage of traffic across the river. The
following features are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground
beneath them is included: the fence across the eastern side of the motte, the
concrete steps in the south giving access to the motte, the road surface built
over the ditch around the motte, the retaining wall at the north end of the
motte and the garden fence lying at right angles to the motte on the eastern
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:
- Legacy System:
Books and journals
Gould, I C, The Victoria History of the County of Durham: Volume I, (1905)
NZ 31 SW 02,
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