Medieval royal hunting lodge known as John of Gaunt's Castle, immediately north west of Haverah Park Top


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
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Ordnance survey map of Medieval royal hunting lodge known as John of Gaunt's Castle, immediately north west of Haverah Park Top
© Crown Copyright and database right 2020. 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 Yorkshire
Harrogate (District Authority)
Haverah Park
National Grid Reference:
SE 21953 54538

Reasons for Designation

Deer parks were areas of land, usually enclosed, set aside and equipped for the management and hunting of deer and other animals. They were generally located in open countryside on marginal land or adjacent to a manor house, castle or palace. They varied in size between 3ha and 1600ha and usually comprised a combination of woodland and grassland which provided a mixture of cover and grazing for deer. Parks could contain a number of features, including hunting lodges (often moated), a park-keeper's house, rabbit warrens, fishponds and enclosures for game, and were usually surrounded by a park pale, a massive fenced or hedged bank often with an internal ditch. Although a small number of parks may have been established in the Anglo-Saxon period, it was the Norman aristocracy's taste for hunting that led to the majority being constructed. The peak period for the laying-out of parks, between AD 1200 and 1350, coincided with a time of considerable prosperity amongst the nobility. From the 15th century onwards few parks were constructed and by the end of the 17th century the deer park in its original form had largely disappeared. The original number of deer parks nationally is unknown but probably exceeded 3000. Many of these survive today, although often altered to a greater or lesser degree. They were established in virtually every county in England, but are most numerous in the West Midlands and Home Counties. Deer parks were a long-lived and widespread monument type. Today they serve to illustrate an important aspect of the activities of medieval nobility and still exert a powerful influence on the pattern of the modern landscape. Where a deer park survives well and is well-documented or associated with other significant remains, its principal features are normally identified as nationally important.

Hunting lodges were often the most prestigious and impressive building in a park. They were used for entertaining and for accommodation as well as a centre for hunting. In some cases they may have served as the main residence for an absentee park owner when in residence. Thus, some hunting lodges were equipped with a wide range of domestic facilities.

The medieval royal hunting lodge known as John of Gaunt's Castle, immediately north west of Haverah Park Top survives well and significant evidence of the domestic arrangements within the lodge will be preserved. It served as a royal residence when the king was hunting in the forest and as an administrative centre when the royal party was within the park. The lodge will contain important information about the workings of royal and high status buildings as well as the nature and development of deer parks.


The monument includes the standing ruins, earthworks and buried remains of a royal hunting lodge known as John of Gaunt's Castle. The monument is situated on a spur of land projecting north into the valley now occupied by the Beaver Dyke reservoirs.

The monument was a royal hunting lodge for the medieval park of Haverah lying within the Forest of Knaresborough. It would serve as a royal residence and administrative centre when the king was hunting in the forest. The first reference to the lodge was in 1333 when substantial repairs were carried out to what was an already established building. Haverah Park was created in the late 12th century and the lodge may date to this time. The 1333 repairs also included the construction of a moat. The lodge was in the king's hands until 1372 when it was acquired by John of Gaunt.

The hunting lodge took the form of a stone tower standing on a square- shaped platform surrounded by a moat with a large outer bank. The tower no longer stands, but the foundations for it survive as prominent earthworks. Records from 1333 show that the building had a chapel, a hall and a queen's chamber and was roofed with lead. Remains of a shallow ditch 2m wide, surround the base of the tower. At the southern edge of the platform are the remains of a gatehouse. This was a stone structure built across the north end of a causeway spanning the moat. Two sections of masonry from the gatehouse still survive up to 3m high.

The moat surrounding the platform is 4m wide and 2m deep. The east and west outer banks are substantial, measuring 12m in width with steep sides up to 2m high. At the north there is only a low outer bank grading into the natural fall of the land. At the south side there is a wide flat topped bank with a short slope to the rear. The inner faces of the moat were revetted with stone, one section of which is exposed within the south east angle of the moat.

At the south east of the outer bank two stone chambers have been built into the slope. One of these still has an arched roof surviving and both have the remains of a narrow access chute at the north end. These are interpreted as being for storage of root crops, game or possibly ice and are associated with the now semi-ruined post-medieval farm complex built adjacent to the monument.

The post-medieval stone walls above ground level are excluded from the scheduling, although the footings and the ground beneath them are 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:
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Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County, (1922), 21
Kershaw, M, John of Gaunt's Castle, (1991), 21


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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