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Moot Hill motte and bailey castle, and site of a medieval moated manor

A Scheduled Monument in Driffield, East Riding of Yorkshire

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Latitude: 54.0105 / 54°0'37"N

Longitude: -0.4393 / 0°26'21"W

OS Eastings: 502371.087652

OS Northings: 458290.166609

OS Grid: TA023582

Mapcode National: GBR TQC2.P3

Mapcode Global: WHGDC.7G1B

Entry Name: Moot Hill motte and bailey castle, and site of a medieval moated manor

Scheduled Date: 27 April 1949

Last Amended: 21 February 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015612

English Heritage Legacy ID: 26594

County: East Riding of Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Driffield

Built-Up Area: Driffield

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): East Riding of Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Great Driffield All Saints

Church of England Diocese: York


The monument includes a motte and bailey castle dating to the early medieval
period at Moot Hill, with the remains of an earlier moated manor and evidence
for a 4th century AD Roman period occupation underlying it.
Moot Hill was the site of an important royal manor from the 11th century,
originating as part of the royal demesne in 1086, with a complicated history
of ownership, passing between the Crown and its gift recipients, through to
the 15th century. Buildings relating to this period of occupation are thought
to have stood within the earthworks of the castle, whose bailey is referred to
in a document of 1208 AD. Excavations at Moot Hill undertaken in 1975
demonstrated that the surviving mound was the motte of a Norman castle lying
immediately to the east of the postulated site of the eighth century
Northumbrian royal palace, references to which, in connection with Driffield,
are found in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for the year 705 AD. The Chronicle
indicates that King Aldfrith, who ruled Northumbria after the death of his
brother, Ecgfrith in 685 AD, possessed a palace at Driffield. The excavations
of 1975 also uncovered evidence of a Roman occupation dating to the fourth
century AD beneath the motte. The surviving remains are now surrounded on
every side by modern buildings, and little of the bailey now survives.
The surviving remains include the motte mound which is up to 4.5m in height
and 40m in diameter, partly surrounded by the remains of a ditch 15m wide and
1.5m deep.
The existence of buried remains of an extensive building was originally
discovered during earlier works carried out in the 19th century. These remains
included wall fragments and large stone steps. It was recorded in the
Driffield Observer for June, 1893 that `an elongated rectangle for the
castle' was found and that hand-made files and a chalk wall foundation
surrounded by a moat up to 3m deep at its west side were revealed by the
excavation of a drain.
J R Mortimer, the 19th century antiquarian mistakenly identified the mound as
a Bronze Age round barrow. The mound had been originally much larger, both in
diameter and height, before part of it was removed during gravel quarrying
operations in 1856-8. During these operations, Mortimer noted fragments of
medieval swords, including what is described as an Anglo-Saxon sword, and
spears, a bronze celt and English silver coins. It was also believed by
Mortimer to have been at one time an Anglo-Saxon Moot Mound, although there is
no direct evidence for this other than its name.
Modern post and wire fencing surrounding the site and associated gates, animal
feed and water dispensers are excluded from the scheduling, although the
ground beneath them 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.

Despite part excavations carried out in the 19th century and in 1975, Moot
Hill motte and bailey castle survives in quite good condition. Excavations
revealed the remains of a Roman occupation dating to the fourth
century AD, underlying the motte. A reference to Driffield in the Anglo-Saxon
Chronicle suggests that this is also the site of a rare eighth century
Northumbrian palace, and the site is known to have been part of the royal
demesne from the 11th to 15th centuries AD. As such it represents an integral
part of the history of Driffield.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Colvin, H M, The History of the King's Works, (1963), 923-924
Colvin, H M, The History of the King's Works, (1963), 923-924
Mortimer, J R , Forty Years Researches in British and Saxon Burial Mounds of East Yorkshire, (1905), 295
Eddy, M R , 'East Riding Archaeologist' in A Roman Settlement And E Medieval Motte At Moot Hill, Gt Driffield, , Vol. Vol 7, (1983), 40-51
Eddy, M R , 'East Riding Archaeologist' in A Roman Settlement And E Medieval Motte At Moot Hill, Gt Driffield, , Vol. Vol 7, (1983), 40-51
Eddy, M R , 'East Riding Archaeologist' in A Roman Settlement And E Medieval Motte At Moot Hill, Gt Driffield, , Vol. Vol 7, (1983), 40-51

Source: Historic England

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