Howe Hill motte and bailey castle


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


Ordnance survey map of Howe Hill motte and bailey castle
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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This copy shows the entry on 19-Oct-2019 at 08:18:35.


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

North Yorkshire
Harrogate (District Authority)
North Deighton
National Grid Reference:
SE 39398 51688

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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.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 the earthworks of the bailey are somewhat degraded, the motte mound of Howe Hill motte and bailey castle still survives in good condition, and retains masonry of the original tower on its summit. Archaeological deposits relating to the original occupation and the configuration of the bailey ditch and bank will also survive intact beneath the ground surface. The monument is thought to be the original site of Spofforth Manor House, given to the Northumberland Percy family at the time of the Norman Conquest.


The monument includes a motte and bailey castle situated 250m to the east of Howe Hill Farm. The motte mound survives to a height of up to 20m and has an overall diameter of up to 30m. It is surrounded by a bailey bank which to the south and east survives to a height of up to 0.7m, and is between 2m to 4m wide. Bailey earthworks also survive less clearly to the west of the motte. Masonry of the original tower survives on the summit of the motte, which is reputed to have been the site of the original Spofforth Manor house of the Percy family, given to them at the time of the Norman Conquest. Modern post and wire fencing is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath it 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:


Bastow, Dr M, AM107, (1985)
Knowles, G C, AM107, (1995)
North Yorks SMR, Y A S Inventory Record Card,
Thubron, S, AM12, (1980)


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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