Ancient Monuments

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Castle Hill motte, Dolphinholme

A Scheduled Monument in Ellel, Lancashire

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Latitude: 53.9764 / 53°58'35"N

Longitude: -2.7326 / 2°43'57"W

OS Eastings: 352048.631463

OS Northings: 453621.095501

OS Grid: SD520536

Mapcode National: GBR 9QCG.69

Mapcode Global: WH84N.091Y

Entry Name: Castle Hill motte, Dolphinholme

Scheduled Date: 17 May 1991

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1010794

English Heritage Legacy ID: 13463

County: Lancashire

Civil Parish: Ellel

Traditional County: Lancashire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lancashire

Church of England Parish: Dolphinholme St Mark

Church of England Diocese: Blackburn


The monument at Dolphinholme comprises a medieval motte formed by an
artificial mound strategically situated on a small plateau on the valley
side some 20m above the floodplain of the River Wyre.
The monument consists of a grassy mound c.1.5m high x 20m max. diameter at
the base, that has been partly eroded by quarrying on the W side. On the
flat summit are gritstone foundations comprising two walls of a structure
standing one course high above the surface. On the N side of the motte are
traces of a short causeway giving access from the higher ground of the
sloping hillside. Faint traces of a surrounding ditch c.1m wide are visible
E of the causeway.

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

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.

The medieval motte at Dolphinholme is of particular historical and
archaeological importance as the only known example of this class of
monument in the Wyre Valley. In such a setting the site was of strategic
importance allowing control of movement along the river valley.

Source: Historic England


Leach, P.E., MPP Single Monument Class Descriptions - Motte & Bailey Castles, (1988)
To Lancaster Univ. Archaeology Unit, Higham, M, (1987)

Source: Historic England

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