Rastrick Castle Hill

Has been described as a Possible Timber Castle (Ringwork)

There are no visible remains

NameRastrick Castle Hill
Alternative NamesCastlefields
Historic CountryYorkshire
Modern AuthorityCalderdale
1974 AuthorityWest Yorkshire
Civil ParishBrighouse

Castle surrounded by a ditch is documented as surviving as an earthwork in 1669 - the description is suggestive of a medieval motte. The area is now a small reidential settlement and during recent development no further evidence has been found. Cinerary urns were found in the area c.1820, along with a Roman coin. Castle Hill place name marked on 1854 OS map.

Three hills in Rastrick have been confused, and are likely to be, in the minds of visitors passing through, viz., Toothill, Roundhill, and Castlehill. Roundhill seems partially artificial, but an examination of its summit has shewn it to be natural, and it is out of the line of the Roman road, which passed close by Castle Hill, near Rastrick Church. This Castle Hill has also been generally regarded as Saxon, but it is quite likely that the Saxons, or Angles as we prefer to style them, utilized a Roman earthwork. As the surface has been molested, we cannot now compare it with such earthworks as that existing in Kirklees Park and other known Roman Camps, but an antiquary of Pontefract, Dr. Johnson, who sought out antiquities in this locality in 1669, records that the Castle Hill at Rastrick was trenched about and hollow in the middle, as if many stones had been got out of it. The circumference of it measured one hundred and eighty-eight yards within the trench, and on the top one hundred and seventeen, which shews the form of it. Mr. Watson added above a hundred years ago that it had "lately been destroyed for the sake of the stone which it contained, and it appeared upon examination that the top of it for a few yards perpendicular was cast-up earth, the rest a natural hill, the whole being hollow at the top, seemingly with design

Such a situation as this was very necessary in troublesome times, either for the neighbourhood to retire to upon alarms, or for way-faring men to make their nightly habitation; for being hollow at the top, it formed a kind of breast-work to protect the men in case of assault; there was also a considerable ascent to it on every side, and there was no rising ground about it, from whence it could be annoyed." This description answers for Round Hill but not for Castle Hill. Mr. Watson was also mistaken in saying that 'nothing sepulchral, nor indeed anything curious,' was found at Castle Hill. Just in his time there may not have been, but since then there has been a large sepulchral urn found. About 1820, my kinsman, Stephen Rushforth, was digging in his garden at Castle Hill, when he came upon one composed of dark-coloured earthenware, measuring about fourteen inches diameter by twenty inches in height, and containing a quantity of human bones. (Horsfall)

There are C14 references to land abutting the Castle Hill. (WY HER)

Gatehouse Comments

The find of a cremation urn on Castle Hill may suggest this site originated as a pre-historic burial mound, possible one of several as other urns were also found. However, the mound may have been constructed coincidentally on a pre-historic (or Roman) burial ground. and even if the mound was a prehistoric structure this does not exclude later use and/or adaption as a Norman Castle site. The description is that of a ringwork not a motte. The location is certainly consistent with a manorial centre. However this may mean the 'castle hill' name comes from the proximity of this feature to the manorial court, rather than it being the actual manorial centre. The area marked Castle Hill on the 1854 OS map has not been heavily overbuilt and there remains scope for archaeological work here, although the hill was heavily damaged in the C18 and is now recorded as levelled.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSE139217
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  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 532 (possible)
  • Petch, S.A., 1924, Tolson Museum Handbook No. 3 p. 92
  • Armitage and Montgomerie, 1912, in Page, Wm (ed), VCH Yorkshire Vol. 2 p. 45
  • Turner, J. Horsfall, 1893, The History of Brighouse, Rastrick, and Hipperholme p. 20-1, 31, 147 online copy
  • Crabtree, 1836 A concise history of the parish and vicarage of Halifax p. 43 online copy
  • Watson, J. and Leyland, F.A., 1869 (2edn), The History and Antiquities of the Parish of Halifax (London: Longmans and Green) p. 80-1


  • Clark, G.T., 1889, 'Contribution towards a complete list of moated mounds or burhs' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 46 p. 197-217 esp. 216 online copy
  • Calrk, G.T., 1880, The Builder Vol. 38 p. 251

Primary Sources

  • Clay, C.T. (ed.), 1924, Yorkshire Deeds IV (Yorkshire Archaeological Society Record Series 65) p. 121 no. 418


  • Creighton, O.H., 1998, Castles and Landscapes: An Archaeological Survey of Yorkshire and the East Midlands (PhD Thesis University of Leicester) p. 769-70 online copy
  • Ella Armitage Notebook D, MSS YAS 521, p. 43, 101