Motte castle in Kimbolton Park, known as Castle Hill


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


Ordnance survey map of Motte castle in Kimbolton Park, known as Castle Hill
© Crown Copyright and database right 2020. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2020. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
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The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1015013.pdf

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

Huntingdonshire (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
TL 09368 67374

Reasons for Designation

Motte 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-bai1ey 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 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 and motte-and-bailey castles are recorded nationally, with examples known from most regions. Some 100-150 examples do not have baileys and are classified as motte castles. 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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.

Castle Hill is a well preserved example of a medieval motte castle. The mound will retain buried evidence for the structure which stood on the summit, and the silts within the surrounding ditch will contain both artefacts and environmental evidence relating to the limited period of occupation. The old ground surface buried beneath the mound is also of considerable significance as it may retain evidence of former land use which will have been degraded elsewhere by more recent cultivation. The strategic position of the castle provides an illustration of its defensive role during the Anarchy.


Castle Hill motte stands on a slight spur about 270m north of Park Lodge, overlooking the flood plain of the River Kym and village of Kimbolton to the north. The castle was constructed by digging a broad circular ditch around the tip of the spur, encircling a small area which was raised using the upcast to form a mound or motte. The motte (also circular in plan) measures about 30m in diameter and now stands approximately level with the outer edge of the ditch to the south, and 1.8m above the rim of the ditch to the north where the ground falls away at the end of the spur. The surface of the motte, which would originally have supported a timber tower, has a slightly domed profile. The surrounding ditch varies between 1m and 2.5m in depth, deepest to the south to compensate for the rising ground. Although it was recorded as water filled in the early part of this century, the ditch is now dry and contains deep deposits of humic silt. The ditch also varies in width from about 15m around the southern part of the circuit narrowing to about 10m around the northern half, which is accompanied by an outer counterscarp bank averaging 5m across and 0.6m high. In the absence of a causeway across the ditch access to the motte is thought to have been via a bridge. The castle is believed to have originated in the mid 12th century during the period of civil war known as the Anarchy. Kimbolton Park, in which the monument stands, was enclosed as a deer park by the 16th century, and it has been suggested that the motte may have been reused as a hunting lodge for a time. The monument is shown on Thomas Stirrup's estate map of 1673 under the name Castle Hill.

All fences and fenceposts 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:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County of Huntingdonshire, (1936), 77
Taylor, A, Castles of Cambridgeshire, (1990), 16
Kimbolton Park, 0255,
Site class designation, 0689,
Title: HRO PM 314 Source Date: 1673 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: Estate map (Huntindon Record Office)


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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