Neville Castle, 430m north west of the parish church


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1017993

Date first listed: 14-Dec-1962

Date of most recent amendment: 29-Apr-1998


Ordnance survey map of Neville Castle, 430m north west of the parish church
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: North Yorkshire

District: Ryedale (District Authority)

Parish: Kirkbymoorside

National Grid Reference: SE 69470 86926


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

Reasons for Designation

Magnates' residences are high status dwellings of domestic rather than military character. They date from the Norman Conquest (in some cases forming a continuation of a Saxon tradition) and throughout the rest of the medieval period. Individual residences were in use for varying lengths of time; some continued in use into the post-medieval period. Such dwellings were the houses or palaces of royalty, bishops and the highest ranks of the nobility, usually those associated with the monarch. They functioned as luxury residences for the elite and their large retinues, and provided an opportunity to display wealth in the form of elaborate architecture and lavish decoration. As such, these palaces formed an impressive setting for audiences with royalty, foreign ambassadors and other lords and bishops. Magnates' residences are located in both rural and urban areas. Bishops' residences are usually in close association with cathedrals, and all residences tend to be located close to good communication routes. Unless constrained by pre-existing structures, magnates' residences comprised an elaborate series of buildings, usually of stone, that in general included a great hall, chambers, kitchens, service rooms, lodgings, a chapel and a gatehouse, arranged around a single or double courtyard. As a consequence of the status of these sites, historic documentation is often prolific, and can be of great value for establishing the date of construction and subsequent alterations to the buildings, and for investigating the range of activities for which the site was a focus. Magnates' residences are widely dispersed throughout England reflecting the mobility of royalty and the upper echelons of the nobility. There is a concentration of sites which reflects the growing importance of London as a political centre, and the majority of magnates' residences tend to be located in the south of the country. Despite their wide distribution, magnates' residences are a relatively rare form of monument due to their special social status. At present only around 236 examples have been identified of which 150 are ecclesiastical palaces and 86 are connected with royalty. Magnates' residences generally provide an emotive and evocative link with the past, especially through their connections with famous historical figures, and can provide a valuable educational resource, both with respect to the organisation and display of political power, and wider aspects of medieval and post- medieval society such as the development of towns and industries and the distribution of dependent agricultural holdings. Examples with surviving archaeological potential are considered to be of national importance.

The standing and buried remains of Neville Castle adds to the understanding of one of the major late medieval noble families of northern England. Excavation in the early 1960s and 1970s demonstrated the archaeological potential of the monument and further significant remains will survive below the present ground surface.


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


The monument includes the buried and standing remains of a late medieval hunting lodge known as Neville Castle, located on the north side of Kirkbymoorside. Neville Castle is believed to have replaced the moated manor house on Vivier's Hill, 500m to the south east, as the main seat of the manor of Kirkbymoorside which was held by the Neville family from the beginning of the 15th century until 1569, when it was forfeited to the Crown following the rebellion of Charles Neville, Earl of Westmoreland. The Nevilles were an important and influential family throughout this period. Their numbers included Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, known as the Kingmaker for his role in the Wars of the Roses, and Charles Neville, who rebelled in support of Mary, Queen of Scots. In 1570 Neville Castle was described as a 16th century hunting lodge set in a park with a boundary circuit 2.5 miles (3.75 km) in length. Two small areas of the monument were excavated in advance of building work over several seasons in the early 1960s and in 1974. These excavations uncovered a complex sequence of buildings and modifications to buildings on the site, starting with a timber cruck framed hall which was occupied until about the end of the 15th century, when it was replaced by a larger, more grandiose set of stone buildings arranged around a courtyard. Most of the remains of Neville Castle survive as buried deposits, but there are at least four sections of exposed masonry. The largest is the wall fragment standing to the west of the path that leads from the end of Castlegate lane along the side of Manor Vale. This is of rough rubble stonework standing some 6m high, 1m thick and 4m long. It retains part of a buttress at the north end of its west face along with a number of putlog holes (sockets for timber scaffolding). Approximately 25m south of this wall fragment there is the chamfered base of a finely dressed stone wall forming the south west corner of a tower or building. Another corner of walling, interpreted as the corresponding north west corner, was mapped in 1974. This lay 15m south of the 6m high wall fragment, but now lies buried. The excavation in 1974 uncovered the floor levels of a kitchen within the west end of the garden of the property known as Squirrels Lea and the southern wall of a hall running along its northern boundary. This section of wall, which stands up to about 0.5m high and includes the base of a south facing oriel window with a fireplace to its west and a doorway to the east, survives as a feature within the garden. About 30m to the south, within the garden of Castle Walls, there are the bottom three to four courses of a circular kiln or oven approximately 1.5m in diameter, which was uncovered during the construction of a sunken garden. Within the field to the south there is a series of low earthworks of buried wall footings for an east-west range of buildings, whilst within the field to the north of Squirrels Lea cropmarks of further features have been photographed. The excavations in 1974 and the early 1960s showed that the medieval buildings originally extended into the northern field. A number of features are excluded from the scheduling; these are all the modern houses and outbuildings; all modern garden walls, fences, and gate posts, path, road and patio surfaces, and all telegraph poles and street signs; although the ground beneath all these features is included.

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: 30135

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Williams, R A H, 'Yorkshire Archaeological Journal' in An Excavation at Neville Castle, Kirkbymoorside, 1974, , Vol. Vol 49, (1977), 87-96

End of official listing