Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

This site is entirely user-supported. See how you can help.

Crayke Castle: a motte and bailey and later stone castle of the bishops of Durham, incorporating part of an Anglo-Saxon monastic cemetery

A Scheduled Monument in Crayke, North Yorkshire

We don't have any photos of this monument yet. Why don't you be the first to send us one?

Upload Photo »

Approximate Location Map
Large Map »

If Google Street View is available, the image is from the best available vantage point looking, if possible, towards the location of the monument. Where it is not available, the satellite view is shown instead.


Latitude: 54.1294 / 54°7'45"N

Longitude: -1.1453 / 1°8'43"W

OS Eastings: 455949.918276

OS Northings: 470727.100183

OS Grid: SE559707

Mapcode National: GBR NNFP.VH

Mapcode Global: WHD95.CGVQ

Entry Name: Crayke Castle: a motte and bailey and later stone castle of the bishops of Durham, incorporating part of an Anglo-Saxon monastic cemetery

Scheduled Date: 19 October 1989

Last Amended: 17 June 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016530

English Heritage Legacy ID: 12602

County: North Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Crayke

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Crayke St Cuthbert

Church of England Diocese: York


The monument includes a Norman motte and bailey castle whose wooden
fortifications were later replaced with a stone tower house and which was
built over part of a pre-Conquest monastic cemetery; the castle was held by
the bishops of Durham. The monument is situated in a commanding position at
the top of a prominent natural outcrop 3km south west of the Howardian Hills.
The motte lies beneath the later structures and is still visible to the north
of the castle as an earthwork mound rising about 2.5m above the natural
hilltop, forming a platform on which later buildings were constructed. The
inner bailey defences have been altered over the years and only survive as
earthworks at the south east side as a short section of bank, although the
line of the southern edge to the bailey is retained by the present garden wall
alongside Crayke Lane. The inner bailey occupied most of the crown of the hill
above the 100m contour, extending to the north of St Cuthbert's Church and
measuring up to 210m east-west by 90m north-south.
Originally the buildings on the motte were constructed of timber but were
quickly replaced in stone. Several phases of building and rebuilding are known
to have occurred, culminating with work undertaken for Bishop Neville in the
mid-15th century. Subsequently, the castle was made untenable as a fortress by
an act of Parliament in 1646 and by the 18th century the main range was in use
as a farmhouse. Two distinct and self-contained buildings are visible. Of
these the larger block, known as the `Great Chamber', has been restored and
now forms a domestic residence. This was originally constructed in the 15th
century but was slightly altered and added to in the 18th and 19th centuries.
In its original form it had kitchen ranges appended to its rear, north side
which linked it to a hall referred to as the `Old Hall' in a description of
1441. Today the vaulted undercroft of the main kitchen range survives and is
used as the modern kitchen: although no further remains of the north ranges
are visible, their foundations will survive below ground.
The construction of the stone castle included the creation of an inner bailey
enclosed by a stone wall which roughly corresponded with the earlier bailey
and also, at a later date, an outer bailey defined by a curtain wall which
extended along the bottom of the steep slope to the north of the castle. The
remains of the footings for a projecting tower in the inner bailey wall
survive as a platform on the north edge of the outcrop approximately 40m north
east of the castle. Small scale excavations at the east end of the bailey
found evidence for the location of a gatehouse allowing access to the castle
via a hollow way; this route still survives as Love Lane which runs northwards
along the eastern boundary field. Within the inner bailey, the earthwork
remains of a large rectangular building in the field north of the churchyard
has been identified as a barn listed in the 16th century survey of the castle
and depicted on a map of Crayke dating to 1688. Excavations in 1983 also
indicated the presence of a medieval pottery kiln at the east side of the
inner bailey. Further ancillary buildings will survive below ground in the
undisturbed areas of this inner bailey. The curtain wall enclosing the outer
bailey survives as a shallow bank and terrace curving round northwards from
the western side of the motte to approximately 5m short of the hedge line. It
then turns to extend eastward to the north east corner of the field where it
then extends northward, following Love Lane. Within the outer precinct, along
the slope are the remains of cultivation terraces some of which pre-date the
castle. In the north eastern area of the outer precinct a number of building
platforms are set amid the terrraces. Partial excavation of these in 1994
indicated that they may have supported small timber buildings. The area of the
outer precinct was probably enclosed in the 13th century and continued in use
for agrarian purposes linked to the castle. In the area between the outer
precinct wall and the hedge line to the north and west are further remains of
the cultivation terraces pre-dating the castle which are also thought to have
continued in use after the outer precinct was enclosed.
Excavations to the north east of the church in 1957 and 1988 revealed that the
castle bailey was built over the north western corner of an Anglo-Saxon
cemetery. It is thought that further remains of the cemetery and possibly of
the monastery itself will also survive below ground. The cemetery was of a
monastery founded by St Cuthbert after he became the Bishop of Lindisfarne in
685. The Saxon bishops of Durham also held a manor house in the vicinity and
Crayke was recorded as a possession of the see in the Domesday Book survey.
The earliest documentary reference to the castle is for 1195, when Bishop Hugh
Pudsey supped there en route from Durham shortly before his death. There were
several royal visitors to Crayke; King John stayed in 1209, 1210-11 and again
in 1211; Henry III stayed in 1227, Edward I in 1292, Edward II in 1316 and
Edward III in 1333. Both the occupied and ruined sections of Crayke Castle are
Listed Grade I.
A number of features are excluded from the scheduling. These are the main
range of the castle, the 19th century stable block beside Crayke Lane, the
surface of the driveway and tennis court, all modern paved areas and garden
fences and gates and the disused reservoir, although the ground beneath all
these features is included.

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

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 at Crayke was remodelled in the 15th century in a more
conteporary fashion as a tower house. Tower houses were prestigious defended
residences permanently occupied by the wealthier or aristocratic members of
Crayke Castle remained in use as a residence of some of the most powerful
lords in the region, the bishops of Durham, thoughout the medieval and early
post-medieval periods. Because the castle subsequently remained in domestic
use, later buildings associated with the monument are exceptionally well-
preserved and, despite the alterations wrought by successive occupiers, many
elements of earlier structures are visible, providing good evidence of each
phase in the development of the castle.
The monument also includes the only known archaeological remains of the pre-
Conquest monastery at Crayke which comprise part of the Anglo-Saxon cemetery.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County of North Riding of Yorkshire, (1923)
Adams, K A, Monastery, Church and Village: Fieldwork and Excavation at Crayke, (1986)
Illingworth, J L, Yorkshire's Ruined Castles, (1938)
Raine, Reverend Cannon, Some Notices of Crayke Castle, (1870)
Hildyard, E J W, 'Yorkshire Archaeological Journal' in Romano-British Discoveries at Crayke, Nth York ii) Trial Excav, (1959)
pag 99-111, Asstd Architect Soc's Reports and Papers,DoE, List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historical Int, (1984)

Source: Historic England

Other nearby scheduled monuments is an independent online resource and is not associated with any government department. All government data published here is used under licence. Please do not contact for any queries related to any individual ancient or schedued monument, planning permission related to scheduled monuments or the scheduling process itself. is a Good Stuff website.