Ancient Monuments

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Cockpit Hill, medieval motte castle

A Scheduled Monument in Kirkby Lonsdale, Cumbria

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Latitude: 54.2051 / 54°12'18"N

Longitude: -2.5981 / 2°35'53"W

OS Eastings: 361081.835552

OS Northings: 478979.351003

OS Grid: SD610789

Mapcode National: GBR BM9T.9C

Mapcode Global: WH94P.2K2P

Entry Name: Cockpit Hill, medieval motte castle

Scheduled Date: 16 November 1965

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1007153

English Heritage Legacy ID: CU 353

County: Cumbria

Civil Parish: Kirkby Lonsdale

Built-Up Area: Kirkby Lonsdale

Traditional County: Westmorland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: Kirkby Lonsdale Team Ministry

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle


The monument includes the remains of a medieval motte situated at the top of a steep slope down to the west bank of the River Lune on the north side of Kirkby Lonsdale. The motte is preserved as an earthwork mound with a height of about 5m surrounded by a slight intermittent ditch with a width of approximately 3m. There is a hollow in the top of the motte which is reputed to have been used as a cockpit during the post-medieval period.

PastScape Monument No:- 43975
NMR:- SD67NW18
Cumbria HER:- 2632

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

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.
Cockpit Hill medieval motte castle is preserved as an upstanding earthwork and will contained archaeological deposits relating to its construction, use and abandonment. The monument provides insight into the character of fortifications during the medieval period and the nature of their subsequent reuse during the post-medieval period. The reputed post-medieval use as a cockpit, a venue for staging cock fights, adds significance to the monument.

Source: Historic England

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