Ancient Monuments

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Tower Hill motte castle, 370m north-east of Dinsdale Spa

A Scheduled Monument in Middleton St George, Darlington

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Latitude: 54.5049 / 54°30'17"N

Longitude: -1.4671 / 1°28'1"W

OS Eastings: 434604.829848

OS Northings: 512311.332069

OS Grid: NZ346123

Mapcode National: GBR LJ6B.5W

Mapcode Global: WHD78.F1M8

Entry Name: Tower Hill motte castle, 370m north-east of Dinsdale Spa

Scheduled Date: 7 March 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011072

English Heritage Legacy ID: 20968

County: Darlington

Civil Parish: Middleton St George

Built-Up Area: Middleton St George

Traditional County: Durham

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): County Durham

Church of England Parish: Middleton St George

Church of England Diocese: Durham


The monument includes a Norman motte situated in a prominent position
overlooking the River Tees. The motte, circular in plan and flat topped, is
constructed upon a partly natural mound. It is 5.5m high and 22m in diameter
across the top and 50m across the base. The surrounding ditch, which has been
infilled, lies beneath the path which has been constructed around the
perimeter of the motte. The motte was constructed in this strategic position
in order to dominate and control the passage of traffic across the river. The
following features are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground
beneath them is included: the fence across the eastern side of the motte, the
concrete steps in the south giving access to the motte, the road surface built
over the ditch around the motte, the retaining wall at the north end of the
motte and the garden fence lying at right angles to the motte on the eastern

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.

Tower Hill motte is very well preserved and is a good example of a motte
castle. Such monuments are not common in County Durham. It will add to our
knowledge and understanding of the spread of Norman occupation in Britain.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Gould, I C, The Victoria History of the County of Durham: Volume I, (1905)
NZ 31 SW 02,

Source: Historic England

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