Howe Hill motte castle


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016266

Date first listed: 02-Dec-1938

Date of most recent amendment: 24-Sep-1997


Ordnance survey map of Howe Hill motte castle
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This copy shows the entry on 19-Nov-2018 at 18:05:09.


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

County: North Yorkshire

District: Hambleton (District Authority)

Parish: Yafforth

National Grid Reference: SE 34656 95006


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.

The motte at Howe Hill survives well and significant remains of the structures on top of the mound and the encircling bank and ditch will be preserved. Due to its restricted location on a small natural knoll there is no bailey. This motte castle appears to have been in use for a comparatively short period of time and was abandoned when its usefulness as a military feature was outlived. It offers important scope for understanding the construction of the castle, its domestic and military arrangements and the role it played in the history of the area.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes the remains of a motte castle known as Howe Hill, located in low lying land in the flood plain of the River Wiske. The motte is an artificial mound built on the top of a natural rounded knoll. It is a flat topped mound 65m in diameter at the base and 25m across on the top. It stands 4.5m high above the top of the knoll. The base of the motte is surrounded by a ditch with an outer counterscarp bank. The ditch is partly infilled in places, leaving a level terrace, although elsewhere, particularly around the south east side, both the ditch and the counterscarp bank survive as earthworks. There are traces of an entranceway through the bank and ditch at the north side. Originally there would have been a timber structure on the top of the motte and a further timber pallisade fence protecting the outer bank. Access to the motte would be via a timber superstructure leading from a strongly built gatehouse. The motte was probably built during the reign of King Stephen between 1135 and 1154. During this period there was political unrest throughout England and forts capable of garrisoning a small force of troops were established to maintain order. This motte commanded the crossing of the River Wiske by the old High Road from Northallerton to Catterick and Richmond. It was probably suppressed by Henry II during the late 12th century.

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: 29527

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
L'Anson, W M, 'Yorkshire Archaeological Journal' in Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, , Vol. VOL 22, (1913), 398-9

End of official listing