Tower Hill motte castle, 370m north-east of Dinsdale Spa


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1011072

Date first listed: 07-Mar-1994


Ordnance survey map of Tower Hill motte castle, 370m north-east of Dinsdale Spa
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Darlington (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Middleton St. George

National Grid Reference: NZ 34606 12312


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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.

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.


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


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 side.

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: 20968

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Gould, I C, The Victoria History of the County of Durham: Volume I, (1905)
NZ 31 SW 02,

End of official listing