Ancient Monuments

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Motte and bailey castle 400m south east of Bishopton

A Scheduled Monument in Bishopton, Darlington

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Latitude: 54.582 / 54°34'55"N

Longitude: -1.434 / 1°26'2"W

OS Eastings: 436677.606808

OS Northings: 520897.256681

OS Grid: NZ366208

Mapcode National: GBR LHFG.B8

Mapcode Global: WHD6W.Y397

Entry Name: Motte and bailey castle 400m south east of Bishopton

Scheduled Date: 14 December 1926

Last Amended: 29 July 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1008668

English Heritage Legacy ID: 20970

County: Darlington

Civil Parish: Bishopton

Traditional County: Durham

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): County Durham

Church of England Parish: Stockton Country Parish

Church of England Diocese: Durham


The monument includes an exceptionally well preserved Norman motte and bailey
castle situated on low lying land beside the Bishopton Beck. The motte is
conical in shape with a near circular top; it stands to a height of 11.5m and
measures 55m across at the base and is surrounded by a moat 10 to 15m wide and
1.4 to 3.5m deep. Immediately to the north west of the motte there is a
bailey which measures 80m north east to south west by 40m north west to south
Its north west side is bounded by a ditch 16m across and 2.7m deep, its
north east side by a bank 0.4m wide and 0.4m high and its south west side is
bounded by a trivallate earthwork 25m across. The western boundary of the
site consists of a double ditch system which runs parallel with the
Bishopton Beck. Within the eastern part of the bailey there are the remains
of a rectangular building measuring 28m by 9.5m, and the remains of a second
building abutting the northern wall of the bailey. The motte and the bailey
is surrounded on the east by a substantial moat, crossed by two raised
causeways 1.3m high; the moat is up to 70m wide and is 1.5m deep and was fed
with water, by a series of artificial channels, from the Bishopton Beck.
Little is known of the history of the monument but a reference in AD 1143
referring to the fortification of a castle by Roger Conyers may refer to
Bishopton. It is not known if there was a previous castle on the site.
The telegraph poles which cross the site are excluded from the scheduling,
although the ground beneath them is included.

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.

The motte and bailey castle at Bishopton survives in an exceptional state of
preservation. Additionally, it is a complex monument which retains valuable
information about its origin and development. It will greatly add to our
knowledge and understanding of the Norman Conquest of northern Britain.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Gould, I C, The Victoria History of the County of Durham: Volume I, (1905)
NZ 32 SE 01,

Source: Historic England

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