Peel Hill motte and bailey castle, Thorne.


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


Ordnance survey map of Peel Hill motte and bailey castle, Thorne.
© Crown Copyright and database right 2020. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Doncaster (Metropolitan Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SE 68947 13351

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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.

Whilst the bailey at the Peel Hill site has now been obscured, the motte remains well-preserved. Limited excavations on the summit have demonstrated that building foundations of the stone castle survive there well. Its association with nearby Conisbrough Castle, and others of the important group commanding the Don Valley, is of particular note.


The monument consists of a very well-preserved motte c.8m high and over 15m wide at the summit. It is surrounded by a deep, steep-sided ditch but is now enclosed by roads and modern building such that no sign of any outer rampart remains. A bailey is believed to have lain to the south where, according to seventeenth century documentary references, important medieval buildings stood. This area is not, however, included in the scheduling as the precise location of these buildings is uncertain. According to Leland (1534), a motte tower still stood in the sixteenth century and was used as a jail. By 1829, however, when Casson was writing, this had been demolished and only foundations survived. Casson's description of the remains indicates that the castle was a smaller version of the nearby great keep at Conisbrough. Like Conisbrough, Peel Hill motte and bailey castle was held by the de Warennes and is one of a group of such castles commanding the Don Valley. All modern features, including benches, bins, walls, fencing, the surface of paths and hardstands, and growing shrubs and trees are excluded from the scheduling but the ground underneath 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.

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Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County of Yorkshire: Volume II, (1912), 23
Casson, W, History and Antiquities of Thorne, (1829)
Magilton, J, The Doncaster District, (1977), 71-3


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

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