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Motte and bailey castle, fishpond and moated site north and east of Aughton church

A Scheduled Monument in Ellerton, East Riding of Yorkshire

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Latitude: 53.8386 / 53°50'19"N

Longitude: -0.9336 / 0°56'1"W

OS Eastings: 470268.0915

OS Northings: 438568.8245

OS Grid: SE702385

Mapcode National: GBR PSX1.NP

Mapcode Global: WHFCR.MSM3

Entry Name: Motte and bailey castle, fishpond and moated site north and east of Aughton church

Scheduled Date: 3 October 1935

Last Amended: 25 May 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1007973

English Heritage Legacy ID: 23828

County: East Riding of Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Ellerton

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): East Riding of Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Bubwith All Saints

Church of England Diocese: York


The monument is a medieval complex on the eastern bank of the River Derwent.
It includes a motte and bailey castle, additional earthen banks and ditches,
fishponds, and a moated site situated immediately to the east of the castle
bailey. A medieval church, set in a churchyard, lies to the south of the
motte; it is believed to have been a component of the medieval complex. The
round earthen mound, the motte of the medieval earthwork castle, which is 35m
in diameter, rises above an earthen platform 50m long, north-south, and 35m
wide, east-west, which is defined by a moat. This moat is up to 10m wide and
2m deep. The motte mound does not occupy the whole platform, the northern end
of which has a fishpond dug into it. The silted pond is 23m long, east- west,
8m wide, north-south, and 0.5m deep. Immediately external and running parallel
to the moat's western arm are two earthen banks and a heavily silted ditch.
The parallel banks are between 0.3m and 0.5m high; both are 3m wide. The
ditch, which is external to the banks, is 3m wide and 0.15m deep. The north
end of both the banks and ditch have been truncated by the planting of a
hedge, to the south they have been obscured by the grave yard. The bailey is
situated immediately to the south east of the motte and its moated platform.
It is 90m square north-south and east-west and is defined by a dry moat up to
2m deep and between 10m and 15m wide. Much of the moat's eastern arm has been
in-filled apart from a 30m long section at its southern end. The inside edge
of this and the southern arm have been cut back and faced in brick to create a
ha-ha. The interior of the bailey has been levelled and landscaped to create
the gardens of Aughton Hall which stands within it. This landscaping, carried
out in the 19th century, has removed any visible trace of internal features
including any earthen ramparts which commonly enclose baileys in monuments of
this type. To the north of the moat there is a disturbed and boggy area of
ground. This uneven ground indicates the presence of at least one medieval
fishpond which was used as a potato dump and in-filled some years ago. Further
moat-like ditches situated to both north and south of the motte and bailey
provide extra protection for the site. The southern ditch is 10m wide and 2m
deep. This ditch originally ran through the area now occupied by the
churchyard to link up with the ditch immediately external to the moat around
the motte's western arm. Where it has been incorporated in the churchyard it
has been in-filled. The northern ditch may also have connected with this
western ditch but the relationship here is unclear since the northern ditch
has been in-filled and remains visible only on aerial photographs. The moated
site lies 250m east of All Saints' Church. It includes a sub-rectangular
island about 40m square which is defined by a moat. The northern and western
arms of the moat are largely dry and in-filled. They are 12m wide and up to
0.5m deep. The southern and eastern arms have been recut to create a large
fishpond; these arms are 15m wide and up to 2m deep. Examination of aerial
photographs suggests that the recutting has been quite substantial. A modern
fishpond 38m long, north-south, 9m wide, east-west, and 1.5m deep lies to the
east of the moated site. This feature lies outside the area of the scheduling
and was only excavated in recent years.
Little is known about the origins of the monument although it is likely that
the motte was built in the years following the Norman Conquest of 1066 to
watch the River Ouse and guard the approaches to York. In the later medieval
period the complex was the property of the Aske family. Robert Aske was one of
the leaders of the Pilgrimage of Grace, the rebellion against Henry VIII's
Dissolution of the Monasteries.
Although the Church of All Saints, which has 11th century origins, is
considered to be a part of the wider medieval complex it remains in
ecclesiastical usage and neither it nor the churchyard are included within the
scheduling. Excluded from the scheduling, though clearly originally a part of
it, is Aughton Hall and the part of the Hall's gardens to north and south of
it. The house is excluded because it has been cellared, while those areas of
the garden excluded have been thoroughly disturbed by gardening, building and

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

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.

Around 6,000 moated sites are known in England. They consist of wide ditches,
often or seasonally water-filled, partly or completely enclosing one or more
islands of dry ground on which stood domestic or religious buildings. In some
cases the islands were used for horticulture. The majority of moated
sites served as prestigious aristocratic and seigneurial residences with the
provision of the moat intended as a status symbol rather than a practical
military defence. The peak period during which moated sites were built was
between about 1250 and 1350 and by far the greatest concentration lies in
central and eastern parts of England. However, moated sites were built
throughout the medieval period, and are widely scattered throughout England
and exhibit a high level of diversity in their forms and sizes. They form a
significant class of monument and are important for the understanding of the
distribution of wealth and status in the countryside. Many examples provide
conditions favourable to the survival of organic remains.
This complex monument demonstrates continued occupation through the medieval
period which has continued up to the present day. Although this monument has
been altered by the construction of a number of buildings, notably Aughton
Hall and All Saint's Church and by garden works, it survives well as
earthworks, and the motte mound remains undisturbed by later development. The
complex will retain evidence of the structures which stood on the motte and
the island of the moat and within the bailey. It will also contribute to an
understanding of the relationship between the motte and bailey castle and the
moat, and between these monuments and the church.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Bulmer, T, History and Directory of East Yorkshire, (1892), 544
Clark, G T , Medieval Military Architecture in England, (1884), 146
Le Patourel, H E J, Moated site of Yorkshire, (1973), 109
Le Patourel, H E J, Moated site of Yorkshire, (1973), 109
Sheahan, , Whellan, , History and Topography of York And The East Riding, (1856), 592
CUC BSC 002/003, CUC BSC 002/003,
Ordnance Survey , 541/30/3047-48,

Source: Historic England

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