Motte and bailey castle and medieval settlement earthworks within Hall Garth


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
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Date first listed:
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Ordnance survey map of Motte and bailey castle and medieval settlement earthworks within Hall Garth
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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This copy shows the entry on 22-Oct-2019 at 13:13:59.


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

North Yorkshire
Hambleton (District Authority)
Kirkby Fleetham with Fencote
National Grid Reference:
SE 28545 94237

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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.

The motte and bailey castle at Kirkby Fleetham is a very late example of this style of castle. Rather than a base for a military garrison like many earlier examples, it was a well-defended manor house of a senior member of the landed gentry. Along with the associated remains of medieval peasants' properties, the monument will retain buried remains that will provide important insights into medieval rural life.


The monument includes earthwork and associated buried remains of a motte and bailey castle, along with the adjacent earthworks of part of the medieval settlement of Fleetham.

At the time of the Domesday Survey in 1087, Kirkby and Fleetham were distinct places with separate manors. By 1301, John Colman had sold his manor at Fleetham to Henry le Scrope who was granted licence to crenellate (add defences to) the manor house in 1314. This was the same year as the decisive Scottish victory over Edward II at the Battle of Bannockburn and can be seen as a response to the threat of Scottish raiding in the early 14th century. Henry le Scrope was not a member of the peerage, but was a professional lawyer, rising to be the Chief Justice to the Kings Bench. His son, Richard Scrope, became the first Lord of Bolton and was the builder of Bolton Castle in Wensleydale in the late 14th century. It is thus thought that the motte and bailey at Kirkby Fleetham was built by Henry, but abandoned by the Scrope family as a principal residence later in the century, possibly when Henry died in 1336. The Scropes of Castle Bolton continued to hold land in Fleetham until 1628, although from 1373 this may have been tenanted by the Metham family who inherited the manor of Kirkby as well as land in Fleetham from Sir Thomas Stapleton.

The motte and bailey was constructed from a natural rise to the east of a low lying area that was probably marsh in the 14th century. The motte is roughly square, around 50m across, with a level top that retains some indication of the buried remains of a building within its southern half. On the north, east and south sides there is a moat ditch up to approximately 3m deep and 15m across. This is steeply sided and has the remains of stone revetment walls visible on both the north and south sides. This moat is thought to have always been a dry ditch as its base is higher than the low ground to the west. However the western side of the motte has a slight depression running along its foot which probably originally held water and has subsequently silted up. The bailey is a raised area to the south east of the motte. This is defined by a steep scarp along the southern side and more gentle slopes to the east and north. This area retains a number of earthworks considered to be the remains of buildings and other features. Along the southern part of the bailey is a depression 40m by 10m which is interpreted as an east-west orientated building range. South of this, cut into the top of the scarp, is a hollow approximately 3m across which may be the remains of a corn drying kiln. At the foot of the scarp there is another depression which is interpreted as another defensive ditch. This is linked by a narrower ditch to drain into Mill Beck to the south. To the west of this ditch, south of the bailey, is a slight platform which may also have originally been for a building. To the east of the bailey there is a depression which runs eastwards, curving slightly south. This is interpreted as the silted remains of a fishpond. To the north of this the land rises again towards the road. Here there are the earthworks of three tofts, medieval peasants' properties, complete with the raised earthwork remains of their houses. Further building platforms, probably the remains of more peasants' houses, are in a line following the road southwards.

Further buildings associated with the motte and bailey castle probably also originally stood just north of the monument within the gardens to the rear of Pinfold Terrace and Forge Lane. As the extent of any buried remains in these gardens is unknown, this area is not included in the scheduling.

Fence lines defining the boundaries of the monument lie immediately outside the protected area. All the telegraph poles within the area of the monument 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:
Legacy System:


North Riding of Yorkshire, (1914)


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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