Hunmanby Castle motte and bailey


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1011375

Date first listed: 01-Dec-1993


Ordnance survey map of Hunmanby Castle motte and bailey
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This copy shows the entry on 22-Feb-2019 at 18:16:19.


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

County: North Yorkshire

District: Scarborough (District Authority)

Parish: Hunmanby

National Grid Reference: TA 09438 77509

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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.

Although the motte has been altered by post-medieval landscaping associated with Hunmanby Hall and the southern part of the bailey has been lost beneath successive phases of school buildings, the whole of the motte and the northern part of the bailey remain undeveloped. Foundations of medieval buildings will survive, on and around the motte.


The monument includes the motte and the undeveloped part of the bailey of the Norman castle at Hunmanby. The village of Hunmanby lies on the western scarp of the Wolds and the castle is situated on Castle Hill, a slight promontory overlooking the village, 100m west of the 11th century All Saints' Church. The monument also lies in the grounds of Hunmanby Hall, a 17th century house later converted into a school for girls and subsequently extended by major new building in the early 1900s. The motte occupies the highest point on Castle Hill, a natural knoll which provided an easily defended site requiring little modification. A ditch, 10m wide and 3m deep, defines the western edge of the motte, providing an additional fortification against attack from the high ground to the west. The ditch once surrounded the motte and, although to the south and east it has become infilled over the years or altered by garden landscaping so that it is no longer visible as an earthwork, it will survive as a buried feature. To the north the motte is bounded by the steep scarp of the road embankment. The motte is estimated to be 60m in diameter and the top is about 4m above the surrounding land surface. A recent study of historical documents and aerial photographic records has identified the original extent of the bailey and, although the southern part of the bailey has been altered by terracing associated with modern buildings, the northern portion remains undeveloped. This portion, estimated to be one quarter of the original area of the bailey, measures 220m east-west by 100m north-south. The northern edge of the bailey is defined by the modern road, Castle Hill or Ratten Row, which runs in a 5m deep cutting down into the town centre. Hunmanby Castle was built by Guilbert de Gant. In the 14th century, the site of the motte is referred to as 'Castlegarth', while a field containing the bailey is called 'Erlesing'. The castle, together with a large area of land to the west of the village, was emparked in the 18th century. All fences, upstanding walls and the surfaces of paths are excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath these items is included. The terrace walls retaining the archaeological deposits and the ground beneath them are included in the scheduling.

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: 20531

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Ramm, HG, Parish Survey, (1970)
Record No. 07026.03,

End of official listing