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were superseded by other types of castle.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 some areas of bailey and rampart at this site have been destroyed,
the motte itself survives well and will retain considerable information on
its original form and method of construction. In addition, the surviving
sections of bailey and rampart are also well-preserved and are substantial
enough for the original full extent of the bailey to be postulated.
The monument comprises a motte, c.5m high, surrounded by a ditch with
sections of a bailey and rampart surviving to north and west. By and large,
the bailey is lost under the road (Cross Hill), but small areas survive
relatively undisturbed in private gardens and adjacent land. The motte,
which is the best defined of the surviving features, lies in the grounds of
Skellow Old Hall. A ditch coming through the west boundary of the hall
grounds, close to the motte, is interpreted as an inlet or outlet channel
for the ditch. Immediately to the west of the motte, areas of the bailey
survive in the gardens of Cromwell's Croft and The Cottage, and sections of
the rampart can be seen along the boundary between Cromwell's Croft and
Edgehill. The most substantial section of bailey and rampart lies to the
north of the road, where the latter stands to a height of c.3m. This section
would originally have curved round to the west and south to link with the
section south of the road. Some modification of these remains is thought to
have occurred during the Civil War, giving rise to the tradition that they
were gun emplacements and the local name, Cromwell's Batteries. All modern
buildings and the surfaces of paths and driveways are excluded from the
scheduling, though the ground beneath is included. The monument is composed
of three separate constraint areas.
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.