Kinaird motte and bailey castle


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


Ordnance survey map of Kinaird motte and bailey castle
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. 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.

North Lincolnshire (Unitary Authority)
Owston Ferry
National Grid Reference:
SE 80515 00267

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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.

Kinaird Castle is a good example of motte and bailey castle with known historical references. The archaeological watching brief in 1995 showed that important remains survive protected under a thick blanket of later deposits. The interiors of the baileys especially will contain additional archaeological remains, including evidence of buildings and industrial and agricultural activity, which will provide evidence for life in the Norman period. The mainly infilled moat ditches will preserve environmental information as well as evidence of the refortification and slighting of the castle in 1173-74. The castle, built to control a crossing point on the Trent, will also preserve evidence of medieval trading activity.


The monument includes part of the buried and earthwork remains of a Norman earthwork castle located at the west end of Owston Ferry. The settlement of Owston Ferry pre-dates the Norman Conquest. There is no mention of a castle in the Domesday Book which records that the manor of Owston Ferry was owned by Geoffrey de La Guerche. The castle is thought to have been constructed shortly after the Domesday Book was compiled, in the late 1080s, to control the traffic between Lindsey and the Isle of Axholme across the River Trent. However, records suggest that it was partially dismantled in 1095, in one of the years when William Rufus faced a revolt in support of his brother's claim to the throne. In 1173-74 the castle was re-fortified by Roger de Mowbray in rebellion against Henry II, but surrendered to royal forces under the command of the king's son Geoffrey Plantagenet, the bishop-elect of Lincoln in 1174. The castle, along with other castles belonging to the Mowbrays, was then slighted to make it undefendable. In the following century the church of St Martin's was constructed within the bailey to the north of the motte. Kinaird Castle is thought to have originally included a motte surrounded by a moat ditch. To the north there were two baileys, the whole surrounded by a bank and second external moat ditch. The motte is a conical mound 60m-70m in diameter at the base, standing over 5m high from the bottom of the encircling moat ditch. The top is a circular, level platform about 10m in diameter and would have been the site of a tower, typically built of timber. The surrounding inner moat ditch is on average 15m wide. On the north west side it is infilled and lies beneath part of St Martin's Church and the original churchyard. To the north of the motte there is a pair of baileys divided by a marked break of slope that runs due north of the motte from the north side of the original churchyard, with the modern ground surface of the eastern bailey being approximately 1m below that of the western one. The eastern bailey contains St Martin's Church and the churchyard which is divided into three main areas. The original churchyard lies immediately around the church and its ground surface now stands around 1m higher than the general lay of the land. A later extension to the churchyard lies to the north, bound by the road, and the most recent part, which is still actively receiving burials, lies to the west. The eastern bailey now contains three houses with outbuildings and gardens. Archaeological investigation in the north east of this bailey in May 1995 showed that the remains of a sequence of two timber palisades on the external bank survive buried under up to 1m of later deposits. From the south side of both baileys, broad banks up to 2m high extend to encircle the southern side of the motte and inner moat. These banks do not join, but are divided from one another by a hollow due south of the motte. The external moat around the castle is believed to have been filled in when the castle was slighted in 1174. A slight depression marking its course can be seen in the field to the east of the motte; the bank to its west also shows as a clear soil and crop mark. The northern part of its circuit co-coincides with the curving course of Church Street, which along this part is slightly sunken. On the west side of the church, its course is continued by a trackway running southwards and then by a footpath around the south western side. A number of features are excluded from the scheduling; these are all buildings, road surfaces, telegraph poles, modern fencing and walling; although the ground beneath these features is included. The churchyard of St Martin's Church is totally excluded from the scheduling.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


SMR record, Humber Archaeological Partnership, 2479, (1997)


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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