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Castle Hill: moated site with Civil War earthworks

A Scheduled Monument in Withern with Stain, Lincolnshire

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Latitude: 53.317 / 53°19'1"N

Longitude: 0.1411 / 0°8'27"E

OS Eastings: 542725.777184

OS Northings: 382142.04462

OS Grid: TF427821

Mapcode National: GBR YZF2.BN

Mapcode Global: WHJL6.4WGJ

Entry Name: Castle Hill: moated site with Civil War earthworks

Scheduled Date: 5 March 1951

Last Amended: 3 April 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019067

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31634

County: Lincolnshire

Civil Parish: Withern with Stain

Traditional County: Lincolnshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lincolnshire

Church of England Parish: Strubby Wold Marsh St Oswald

Church of England Diocese: Lincoln


The monument includes a medieval moated site which was altered by the addition
of earthwork defences thought to date from the Civil War. Known as Castle
Hill, it is located at Hall Farm 250m east of the church in Withern. In 1086
land at Withern was held by Earl Hugh as part of his manor of Greetham, and
between the 13th and 15th centuries it was variously held by the Well family
and the Crown. From the 15th to the 18th centuries a branch of the Fitzwilliam
family, established at Mablethorpe Hall, held large estates in Withern and
Mablethorpe; 17th century documentary evidence makes reference to Fitzwilliams
at Withern, and Castle Hill is believed to have been the location of a house
belonging to the Fitzwilliam family. In the post-medieval period a building,
known as Withern Hall, was located immediately to the north west of the site
but was later destroyed.

Although medieval in origin, the moated site is believed to have been altered
in the post-medieval period to form a defensive position which included the
creation of ramparts and angle bastions together with the enhancement of the
moat. Situated on fairly level ground, on the eastern side of the Great Eau,
it takes the form of a large embanked enclosure raised 2m above the
surrounding ground level and enclosed by a moat. The moat, now dry, is steep
sided measuring 12m to 18m in width and up to 2m deep. The moated enclosure is
trapezoidal in plan measuring 80m by 75m tapering to 60m in width at the south
eastern side. The level interior is enclosed on three sides, to the north
east, south east and south west, by a steep sided, flat-topped earthen bank or
rampart, standing up to 1.5m high and measuring 8m to 10m in width at the base
and approximately 6m in width at the top. At each corner the rampart splays
outward forming a platform approximately 7m in width; these are thought to
represent bastions, which would have provided gun emplacements. The north
eastern rampart is interrupted mid-way along its length by a narrow hollow
leading down to the moat, thought to represent a modern access point.

During the Civil War the area around Withern was garrisoned by the
Parliamentarians, including Mablethorpe Hall; these positions were captured by
the Royalists in the summer of 1643 and were then retaken by Parliamentarian
forces, although subsequently raids continued to be made in the area. The
alterations to the moated site would have provided defences overlooking the
approaches to the site and the nearby church. The north western side of the
monument where the rampart is absent would have been afforded protection by
the low-lying ground between the monument and the river, an area prone to

All fences are excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath them
is included.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Around 6,000 moated sites are known in England. They consist of wide ditches,
often or seasonally water-filled, partly or completely enclosing one or more
islands of dry ground on which stood domestic or religious buildings. In some
cases the islands were used for horticulture. The majority of moated sites
served as prestigious aristocratic and seigneurial residences with the
provision of a moat intended as a status symbol rather than a practical
military defence. The peak period during which moated sites were built was
between about 1250 and 1350 and by far the greatest concentration lies in
central and eastern parts of England. However, moated sites were built
throughout the medieval period, are widely scattered throughout England and
exhibit a high level of diversity in their forms and sizes. They form a
significant class of medieval monument and are important for the understanding
of the distribution of wealth and status in the countryside. Many examples
provide conditions favourable to the survival of organic remains.

English Civil War fieldworks are earthworks which were raised during military
operations between 1642 and 1645 to provide temporary protection for infantry
or to act as gun emplacements. The earthworks, which may have been reinforced
with revetting and palisades, consisted of banks and ditches and varied in
complexity from simple breastworks to complex systems of banks and
interconnected trenches. The circumstances and cost of their construction may
be referred to in contemporary historical documents. Fieldworks are recorded
widely throughout England with concentrations in the main areas of
campaigning. Those with a defensive function were often sited to protect
settlements or their approaches. Those with an offensive function were
designed to dominate defensive positions and to contain beseiged areas. There
are some 150 surviving examples of fieldworks recorded nationally. All
examples which survive well and/or represent particular forms of construction
are identified as nationally important.

The remains of the moated site and Civil War defences, known as Castle Hill,
survive well as a series of earthworks and buried deposits preserving valuable
evidence of the development of the monument throughout the medieval and post-
medieval periods. The defensive position represents a response to the turmoil
of the Civil War period as control of the area changed between opposing forces
and was affected by raids and skirmishes. The artificially raised ground will
preserve evidence of the land use prior to its construction, while waterlogged
deposits will preserve organic remains (such as timber, leather and seeds)
which will give an insight into the domestic and economic activity on the
site. As a medieval site which was significantly altered during the Civil War,
it contributes to our understanding of an important historical period.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Foster, C W, Longley, T, The Lincolnshire Domesday and the Lincolnshire Survey, (1976)
Pevsner, N, Harris, J, Antram, N, The Buildings of England: Lincolnshire, (1989), 808
Holmes, C, 'History of Lincolnshire' in Seventeenth Century Lincolnshire, , Vol. 7, (1980)
Owen, A E B, 'Lincolnshire History and Archaeology' in Castle Carlton: The Origins Of A Medieval New Town, , Vol. 27, (1992), 17-22
NMR, 355686, (1998)
Title: Withern Tithe Award
Source Date: 1839

Source: Historic England

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