Tower Hill motte castle, Stainby


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


Ordnance survey map of Tower Hill motte castle, Stainby
© 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.

South Kesteven (District Authority)
Gunby and Stainby
National Grid Reference:
SK 90962 22689

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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.

Tower Hill motte castle survives well as a series of earthworks and buried deposits. These will preserve evidence of the original form of the fortifications and layout of the buildings within them. The artificially raised ground will preserve evidence of land-use prior to the construction of the motte. The association of the motte castle with the medieval manor of Stainby contributes to an understanding of the inter-relationship of contemporary components of the medieval landscape.


The monument includes the medieval motte known as Tower Hill located on the south side of the present village of Stainby. In 1086 Alfred of Lincoln held a manor in Stainby. The manor remained intact until the mid-13th century and was then divided between two families, de Cumpton and de Holywell. It is believed that the latter family held the manorial centre in Stainby during the 13th century.

Situated toward the top of a steep north-facing slope, the motte takes the form of a subcircular mound surrounded by a ditch. The motte stands up to 3m in height with a flat top approximately 20m in diameter. Low earthworks on the top of the motte are thought to indicate the location of buried building remains. A bank, up to 0.5m high, which encloses the top of the motte, is thought to indicate the location of the buried remains of a wall or palisade. The motte is in turn enclosed by a ditch measuring between 5m to 10m in width and 0.5m deep. A causeway which crosses the ditch at the north eastern side may indicate the location of an original access point.

All fence posts and chicken coops are excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath them 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:
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Books and journals
Healey, RH, Roffe, DR, Some medieval and later earthworks in South Lincolnshire, (1990), 67-68
Li 30074, (1999)


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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