Castle Hills motte and bailey castle, Mexborough


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


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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:
SK 48468 99898

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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.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 motte and bailey castle at Castle Hills, Mexborough, with its substantial earthworks, is a good surviving example of this type of monument. Although to some extent disturbed by landscaping, many of the original archaeological remains within the bailey and in the outer ditch will survive beneath the modern paths, bandstand and concreted area.


The monument consists of a circular bailey, c.25m in diameter, with a peripheral motte, c.8m high and c.5m across at the top. The bailey is surrounded by substantial banks rising c.2m above the present inner ground level and c.5m above the outer ditch. Entrance to the bailey is via a defensive approach on the north west side that survives as an earthwork between the bailey rampart and the motte. A similar but smaller feature can be seen on the south side. Situated on the north bank of the River Don, the site commands the ancient ford at Strafforth Sands. In the 11th century it was a manor of Roger de Busli, lord of Tickhill. Writing in the 17th century, Dodsworth mentions "Mexborough, where hath once been a castle", suggesting the stone visible in the top of the motte is part of the foundations of a stone tower. Excluded from the scheduling are the modern paths, bandstand and concreted area, flagpole base, retaining walls and growing shrubs and trees, although the ground beneath these features 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:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County of Yorkshire: Volume II, (1912)
Addy, S O, Some Defensive Earthworks In The Neighbourhood Of Sheffield, (1914)
Chalkley-Gould, I, Some Early Defensive Earthworks In The Sheffield District, (1904)
Magilton, J, The Doncaster District, (1977)


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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