Maiden Bower and Cock Lodge: a motte and bailey castle, moated site, windmill mound and associated linear outwork


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1011612

Date first listed: 17-Jan-1935

Date of most recent amendment: 21-Jan-1994


Ordnance survey map of Maiden Bower and Cock Lodge: a motte and bailey castle, moated site, windmill mound and associated linear outwork
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: North Yorkshire

District: Hambleton (District Authority)

Parish: Topcliffe

National Grid Reference: SE 40694 75474, SE 40844 75134


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

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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.

The castle was superseded by a moated site. Such sites consist of wide ditches, often waterfilled and enclosing one or more islands on which stood domestic or religious buildings. In some cases the island were used for horticulture. The majority of moated sites served as aristocratic and seigniorial residences with the provision of a moat intended as a status symbol rather than as a practical military defence. They form a significant class of medieval monument and are important for the understanding of the distribution of wealth and status in the countryside. The monument comprises well defined earthworks and retains conditions favourable for the preservation of medieval building foundations in the unploughed interiors of the bailey and the moated island. Although the Norman castle and later manor house are closely associated, they are spatially discrete; the structures of the motte and bailey will not have been altered by the construction of the later medieval buildings. The monument thus holds important evidence for the evolution of aristocratic residences and, hence, for the development of the feudal system in England throughout the medieval period.


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


The monument includes a Norman motte and bailey castle, known as 'Maiden Bower', along with the moated site and windmill mound of 'Cock Lodge', the manor house which succeeded the castle. Also included is a linear outwork located in a separate area 200m to the north of the River Swale on a narrowing spur of higher land between the Swale and its tributary the Cod Beck. The motte is an earthen mound located at the southern tip of the spur and would have been largely surrounded by impassable marshes during the Middle Ages. The mound is 60m in diameter at the base, rising about 15m from the floodplain to the flat top 10m in diameter. Unusually, the sides of the motte are terraced in three stages, although this may be a slight alteration resulting from later medieval gardening and landscaping works associated with the manor house. The tip of the natural spur forms a small platform to the south-east of the motte whilst, on the north-west side, a 2.5m deep ditch separates the motte from the D-shaped bailey. The bailey measures 80m by 60m across and its defences are formed by a ditch 10m wide by up to 1.5m deep strengthened by an inner bank which is 2m high in places. A slight earthwork, comprising a bank and ditch of maximum width 12m, runs from the north-eastern arm of the bailey across the floodplain of the Cod Beck; this may have been a causeway crossing the former marshes. North-west of the bailey, a strip of land about 60m wide is known to have been ploughed recently and there are no visible earthworks, although this area will retain buried features linking the castle with the moated site. The moated site occupies a major part of the spur between the two rivers; it is unusually large, the island measuring 200m by 160m across, and has a five- sided plan. The south-eastern arm, facing the earlier castle, comprises a 5m wide, 5m deep ditch running across the spur and has a 2m high inner bank with an entrance gap at its mid point. The inner bank continues along the north- eastern arm, although it becomes less substantial, and the side of the valley has been modified to make it steeper; the ditch along this arm, which was recorded in a survey published in 1912, has been altered since then by the passage of farm vehicles and a gap in the bank is modern. The north-western arm is formed by a ditch which is 8m-12m wide by 1.5m deep with a 1.5m high inner bank and has an old causewayed entrance at its mid-point, while a modern entrance is located at the south end of Winn Lake. The two remaining arms run along the western edge of the spur which has been modified to form a 5m high scarp falling steeply from the island platform to the floodplain; no ditch has been observed here. About halfway along the south-western arm, a ditch runs north-eastwards into the interior of the island for a distance of 80m, defining the north-western edge of a slightly raised rectangular platform measuring 90m by 60m. A low bank runs along the south-eastern edge and at the western side of the platform is an oval mound 15m in diameter and 2.5m high. The platform is the site of the manorial buildings, the mound being the base of a type of windmill. Other slight earthworks are visible over the rest of the moated island, indicating areas of medieval agricultural and horticultural activity. North of the moated site, the Swale and its tributary lie up to 650m apart and the intervening land levels out into a wide plain. At this point, the spur is cordoned off by a bank and ditch; although slightened over the years by agricultural activity, the 8m wide bank is 1m high in places, while the ditch is incorporated into the present field boundary on the north side of the bank. The motte and bailey may have been erected in 1071 and was re-fortified by Geoffrey Plantagenet, Bishop of Lincoln, during the de Mowbray rebellion in 1174. Topcliffe was the 'demesne' or home manor of the Percy family from the time of the Doomsday and it was still held by them after 1200 AD, when the prestigious manor house was constructed. The moated site is also known as 'Manor Hills'. All fences are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 20530

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Page, W, The Victoria History of the County of North Riding of Yorkshire, (1912), 40-2
L'Anson, W M, 'Yorkshire Archaeological Journal' in The Castles of the North Riding, , Vol. 22, (1912), 393-6
A.M.7: County Monument NY 226,
AM7: County Monument NY 226,
Monument Class Description: Postmills, (1990)
Page W Ed., DOE AM7,
Title: 1:2500 Map Series Source Date: Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing