Ancient Monuments

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Castle Hills motte and bailey castle, Mexborough

A Scheduled Monument in Mexborough, Doncaster

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Latitude: 53.4936 / 53°29'36"N

Longitude: -1.2709 / 1°16'15"W

OS Eastings: 448466.267063

OS Northings: 399897.74173

OS Grid: SK484998

Mapcode National: GBR MXK1.NC

Mapcode Global: WHDD6.GG03

Entry Name: Castle Hills motte and bailey castle, Mexborough

Scheduled Date: 2 December 1938

Last Amended: 12 December 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013650

English Heritage Legacy ID: 13210

County: Doncaster

Electoral Ward/Division: Mexborough

Built-Up Area: Mexborough

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): South Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Mexborough St John the Baptist

Church of England Diocese: Sheffield


The monument consists of a circular bailey, c.25m in diameter, with a
peripheral motte, c.8m high and c.5m across at the top. The bailey is
surrounded by substantial banks rising c.2m above the present inner ground
level and c.5m above the outer ditch. Entrance to the bailey is via a
defensive approach on the north west side that survives as an earthwork
between the bailey rampart and the motte. A similar but smaller feature can be
seen on the south side.
Situated on the north bank of the River Don, the site commands the ancient
ford at Strafforth Sands. In the 11th century it was a manor of Roger de
Busli, lord of Tickhill. Writing in the 17th century, Dodsworth mentions
"Mexborough, where hath once been a castle", suggesting the stone visible in
the top of the motte is part of the foundations of a stone tower.
Excluded from the scheduling are the modern paths, bandstand and concreted
area, flagpole base, retaining walls and growing shrubs and trees, although
the ground beneath these features 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.

The motte and bailey castle at Castle Hills, Mexborough, with its
substantial earthworks, is a good surviving example of this type of
monument. Although to some extent disturbed by landscaping, many of the
original archaeological remains within the bailey and in the outer ditch
will survive beneath the modern paths, bandstand and concreted area.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County of Yorkshire: Volume II, (1912)
Addy, S O, Some Defensive Earthworks In The Neighbourhood Of Sheffield, (1914)
Chalkley-Gould, I, Some Early Defensive Earthworks In The Sheffield District, (1904)
Magilton, J, The Doncaster District, (1977)

Source: Historic England

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