Ancient Monuments

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Peel Hill motte and bailey castle, Thorne.

A Scheduled Monument in Thorne, Doncaster

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Latitude: 53.6121 / 53°36'43"N

Longitude: -0.9593 / 0°57'33"W

OS Eastings: 468947.490171

OS Northings: 413346.179817

OS Grid: SE689133

Mapcode National: GBR PVRN.3W

Mapcode Global: WHFDX.7GFQ

Entry Name: Peel Hill motte and bailey castle, Thorne.

Scheduled Date: 20 October 1949

Last Amended: 31 July 1991

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013451

English Heritage Legacy ID: 13213

County: Doncaster

Civil Parish: Thorne

Built-Up Area: Thorne

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): South Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Thorne St Nicholas

Church of England Diocese: Sheffield


The monument consists of a very well-preserved motte c.8m high and over 15m
wide at the summit. It is surrounded by a deep, steep-sided ditch but is now
enclosed by roads and modern building such that no sign of any outer rampart
remains. A bailey is believed to have lain to the south where, according to
seventeenth century documentary references, important medieval buildings
stood. This area is not, however, included in the scheduling as the precise
location of these buildings is uncertain. According to Leland (1534), a motte
tower still stood in the sixteenth century and was used as a jail. By 1829,
however, when Casson was writing, this had been demolished and only
foundations survived. Casson's description of the remains indicates that the
castle was a smaller version of the nearby great keep at Conisbrough. Like
Conisbrough, Peel Hill motte and bailey castle was held by the de Warennes
and is one of a group of such castles commanding the Don Valley.
All modern features, including benches, bins, walls, fencing, the surface of
paths and hardstands, and growing shrubs and trees are excluded from the
scheduling but the ground underneath is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

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.

Whilst the bailey at the Peel Hill site has now been obscured, the motte
remains well-preserved. Limited excavations on the summit have demonstrated
that building foundations of the stone castle survive there well. Its
association with nearby Conisbrough Castle, and others of the important
group commanding the Don Valley, is of particular note.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County of Yorkshire: Volume II, (1912), 23
Casson, W, History and Antiquities of Thorne, (1829)
Magilton, J, The Doncaster District, (1977), 71-3

Source: Historic England

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