Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

This site is entirely user-supported. See how you can help.

Bossall Hall: a quadrangular castle

A Scheduled Monument in Buttercrambe with Bossall, North Yorkshire

We don't have any photos of this monument yet. Why don't you be the first to send us one?

Upload Photo »

Approximate Location Map
Large Map »

If Google Street View is available, the image is from the best available vantage point looking, if possible, towards the location of the monument. Where it is not available, the satellite view is shown instead.


Latitude: 54.0374 / 54°2'14"N

Longitude: -0.9066 / 0°54'23"W

OS Eastings: 471701.838657

OS Northings: 460715.642939

OS Grid: SE717607

Mapcode National: GBR QP3R.HF

Mapcode Global: WHFBT.1SJ6

Entry Name: Bossall Hall: a quadrangular castle

Scheduled Date: 8 October 1993

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1008016

English Heritage Legacy ID: 20525

County: North Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Buttercrambe with Bossall

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Bossal St Botolph

Church of England Diocese: York


The monument includes the remains of the quadrangular castle at Bossall Hall,
situated to the west of St Botolph's church on the crest of an area of high
land to the west of the River Derwent valley. Although the castle was
demolished to make way for the present Grade II listed 16th/18th century hall
with its gardens, the castle moat which surrounds the house is for the most
part retained as an open ditch and the foundations of the curtain wall are
visible in places as earth-covered banks at the edge of the moat. The hall
stands on the northern part of the inner island, which measures up to 105m
north-south by 70m east-west; the inner moat is visible on all four sides of
the island as a dry ditch up to 10m wide by 2.5m deep. A 4m wide bank, thought
to contain remains of the curtain wall, surrounds the southern half of the
island and varies between about 0.5m high on the western arm to 1.5m high on
the eastern arm. Another bank, 4m wide by 0.5m high, lies on the outer edge of
the eastern arm of the moat. A causeway across the north-eastern corner of the
moat and two footbridges are modern but the brick bridge across the eastern
arm was built in 1808 on the site of an original entrance and its stone
footings are the medieval bridge abutments. Around three sides of the inner
moat is an outer court, ranging between 20m and 35m across and surrounded by
an outer moat. The northern arm of this moat is visible as a ditch 8m wide by
2m deep with an outer bank on its north side which is not clearly defined but
is about 0.5m high and at most 8m wide. There are no upstanding remains of the
outer curtain wall but its footings will survive below-ground. Although the
eastern end of the ditch has been infilled since the 1920's, the 1911 edition
of the Ordnance Survey map records that it extended for a further 40m east of
its present terminal. The north-western corner of the moat is still clearly
visible and, although the ditch is shallower, the northern end of the western
arm can be seen. The western arm is largely infilled but will survive as a
buried feature which runs just outside the walled garden of the hall; the
post-medieval garden wall is a substantial 2.5m high structure and it is
likely that it is founded on the medieval footings of the outer curtain wall.
At its southern end, the western arm of the moat becomes visible again as a
slight 8m wide depression running into an east-west ditch which is a westerly
extension of the inner moat. This latter feature extends for 6m beyond the
outer edge of the western arm where it now forms a small pond; originally this
ditch may have continued west, towards a series of springs, and served as a
leat supplying water to the castle moat. There is a slight indication that a
corresponding feature, possibly the overflow drain, ran from the north-western
corner of the outer moat. Although the eastern arm of the outer moat is no
longer visible and its north-eastern corner lies beneath a group of stables,
the infilled ditch, the curtain wall footings and the foundations of medieval
structures within the outer court will survive below-ground; the extent of the
outer court on this side is estimated to be equivalent to that on the western
The village of Bossall is thought to derive its name from Bosa, a 7th century
Archbishop of York, who reputedly founded a church dedicated to St Botolph on
the site of the present church. Bossall was a thriving community in the
medieval period and the buried remains of the medieval village are thought to
survive to the north-west of the castle, in Old Bossall field. The
quadrangular castle dates from the 14th century. Sir Robert Belt built the
existing hall before 1644, probably demolishing the castle walls to obtain
building materials for the house, although in 1885 his descendant, W J Belt,
wrote that foundations of the double curtain wall, square towers, round towers
and a barbican of the castle were still to be seen.
Bossall Hall, stables and outbuildings, the garden wall, the made surfaces of
paths, yards and driveways, footbridges, the 19th century structure of the
brick bridge and all fences are excluded from the scheduling, although the
ground beneath these features and the earlier stone bridge abutments are

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

A quadrangular castle is a strongly fortified residence built of stone, or
sometimes brick, around a square or rectangular courtyard. The outer walls
formed a defensive line, frequently with towers sited on the corners and
occasionally in intermediate positions as well. Some of the very strongly
defended examples have additional external walls. Ditches, normally wet but
sometimes dry, were also found outside the walls. Two main types of
quadrangular castle have been identified. In the southern type, the angle and
intermediate mural towers were most often round in plan and projected markedly
from the enclosing wall. In the northern type, square angle towers, often of
massive proportions, were constructed, these projecting only slightly from the
main wall. Within the castle, accommodation was provided in the towers or in
buildings set against the walls which opened onto the central courtyard. An
important feature of quadrangular castles was that they were planned and built
to an integrated, often symmetrical, design. Once built, therefore, they did
not lend themselves easily to modification. The earliest and finest examples
of this class of castle are found in Wales, dating from 1277, but they also
began to appear in England at the same time. Most examples were built in the
14th century but the tradition extended into the 15th century. Later examples
demonstrate an increasing emphasis on domestic comfort to the detriment of
defence and, indeed, some late examples are virtually defenceless. They
provided residences for the king or leading families and occur in both rural
and urban situations. Quadrangular castles are widely dispersed throughout
England with a slight concentration in Kent and Sussex protecting a vulnerable
coastline and routes to London. Other concentrations are found in the north
near the Scottish border and also in the west on the Welsh border. They are
rare nationally with only 64 recorded examples of which 44 are of southern
type and 20 are of northern type. Considerable diversity of form is exhibited
with no two examples being exactly alike. With other types of castle, they are
major medieval monument types which, belonging to the highest levels of
society, frequently acted as major administrative centres and formed the foci
for developing settlement patterns. Castles generally provide an emotive and
evocative link to the past and can provide a valuable educational resource,
both with respect to medieval warfare and defence, and to wider aspects of
medieval society. All examples retaining significant remains of medieval date
are considered to be of national importance.

The monument at Bossall Hall is one of a small number of quadrangular castles
in North Yorkshire and its defences unusually comprise a double curtain wall
with round towers. Although, in common with many of the other North Yorkshire
examples, the castle was demolished to make way for a later house, the plan of
the castle is still largely visible in the form of its moat while the
foundations of the curtain wall, entrance bridge and internal buildings
survive below ground.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Le Patourel, H E J, Moated site of Yorkshire, (1973), 118
Pevsner, N, The Buildings of England: Yorkshire: The North Riding, (1966), 84
Notes on the history displayed in St Botolph's Church,
NY SMR 01641,
NY SMR vertical AP series,
Title: 25" Map Series
Source Date: 1911

Source: Historic England

Other nearby scheduled monuments is an independent online resource and is not associated with any government department. All government data published here is used under licence. Please do not contact for any queries related to any individual ancient or schedued monument, planning permission related to scheduled monuments or the scheduling process itself. is a Good Stuff website.