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Motte and bailey castle and medieval settlement earthworks within Hall Garth

A Scheduled Monument in Kirkby Fleetham with Fencote, North Yorkshire

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Latitude: 54.3429 / 54°20'34"N

Longitude: -1.5626 / 1°33'45"W

OS Eastings: 428530.161227

OS Northings: 494239.054046

OS Grid: SE285942

Mapcode National: GBR KLJ6.HY

Mapcode Global: WHC6V.Z31H

Entry Name: Motte and bailey castle and medieval settlement earthworks within Hall Garth

Scheduled Date: 11 November 1966

Last Amended: 16 July 2003

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1021103

English Heritage Legacy ID: 34728

County: North Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Kirkby Fleetham with Fencote

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire


The monument includes earthwork and associated buried remains of a motte
and bailey castle, along with the adjacent earthworks of part of the
medieval settlement of Fleetham.

At the time of the Domesday Survey in 1087, Kirkby and Fleetham were
distinct places with separate manors. By 1301, John Colman had sold his
manor at Fleetham to Henry le Scrope who was granted licence to crenellate
(add defences to) the manor house in 1314. This was the same year as the
decisive Scottish victory over Edward II at the Battle of Bannockburn and
can be seen as a response to the threat of Scottish raiding in the early
14th century. Henry le Scrope was not a member of the peerage, but was a
professional lawyer, rising to be the Chief Justice to the Kings Bench.
His son, Richard Scrope, became the first Lord of Bolton and was the
builder of Bolton Castle in Wensleydale in the late 14th century. It is
thus thought that the motte and bailey at Kirkby Fleetham was built by
Henry, but abandoned by the Scrope family as a principal residence later
in the century, possibly when Henry died in 1336. The Scropes of Castle
Bolton continued to hold land in Fleetham until 1628, although from 1373
this may have been tenanted by the Metham family who inherited the manor
of Kirkby as well as land in Fleetham from Sir Thomas Stapleton.

The motte and bailey was constructed from a natural rise to the east of a
low lying area that was probably marsh in the 14th century. The motte is
roughly square, around 50m across, with a level top that retains some
indication of the buried remains of a building within its southern half.
On the north, east and south sides there is a moat ditch up to
approximately 3m deep and 15m across. This is steeply sided and has the
remains of stone revetment walls visible on both the north and south
sides. This moat is thought to have always been a dry ditch as its base is
higher than the low ground to the west. However the western side of the
motte has a slight depression running along its foot which probably
originally held water and has subsequently silted up. The bailey is a
raised area to the south east of the motte. This is defined by a steep
scarp along the southern side and more gentle slopes to the east and
north. This area retains a number of earthworks considered to be the
remains of buildings and other features. Along the southern part of the
bailey is a depression 40m by 10m which is interpreted as an east-west
orientated building range. South of this, cut into the top of the scarp,
is a hollow approximately 3m across which may be the remains of a corn
drying kiln. At the foot of the scarp there is another depression which is
interpreted as another defensive ditch. This is linked by a narrower ditch
to drain into Mill Beck to the south. To the west of this ditch, south of
the bailey, is a slight platform which may also have originally been for a
building. To the east of the bailey there is a depression which runs
eastwards, curving slightly south. This is interpreted as the silted
remains of a fishpond. To the north of this the land rises again towards
the road. Here there are the earthworks of three tofts, medieval peasants'
properties, complete with the raised earthwork remains of their houses.
Further building platforms, probably the remains of more peasants' houses,
are in a line following the road southwards.

Further buildings associated with the motte and bailey castle probably
also originally stood just north of the monument within the gardens to the
rear of Pinfold Terrace and Forge Lane. As the extent of any buried
remains in these gardens is unknown, this area is not included in the

Fence lines defining the boundaries of the monument lie immediately
outside the protected area. All the telegraph poles within the area of the
monument 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

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 Kirkby Fleetham is a very late example of
this style of castle. Rather than a base for a military garrison like many
earlier examples, it was a well-defended manor house of a senior member of
the landed gentry. Along with the associated remains of medieval peasants'
properties, the monument will retain buried remains that will provide
important insights into medieval rural life.

Source: Historic England


North Riding of Yorkshire, (1914)

Source: Historic England

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