Bossall Hall

Has been described as a Questionable Masonry Castle, and also as a Questionable Fortified Manor House

There are earthwork remains

NameBossall Hall
Alternative Names
Historic CountryYorkshire
Modern AuthorityNorth Yorkshire
1974 AuthorityNorth Yorkshire
Civil ParishButtercrambe With Bossall

The monument at Bossall Hall is one of a small number of quadrangular castles in North Yorkshire and its defences unusually comprise a double curtain wall with round towers. Although, in common with many of the other North Yorkshire examples, the castle was demolished to make way for a later house, the plan of the castle is still largely visible in the form of its moat while the foundations of the curtain wall, entrance bridge and internal buildings survive below ground.

The monument includes the remains of the quadrangular castle at Bossall Hall, situated to the west of St Botolph's church on the crest of an area of high land to the west of the River Derwent valley. Although the castle was demolished to make way for the present Grade II listed 16th/18th century hall with its gardens, the castle moat which surrounds the house is for the most part retained as an open ditch and the foundations of the curtain wall are visible in places as earth-covered banks at the edge of the moat. The hall stands on the northern part of the inner island, which measures up to 105m north-south by 70m east-west; the inner moat is visible on all four sides of the island as a dry ditch up to 10m wide by 2.5m deep. A 4m wide bank, thought to contain remains of the curtain wall, surrounds the southern half of the island and varies between about 0.5m high on the western arm to 1.5m high on the eastern arm. Another bank, 4m wide by 0.5m high, lies on the outer edge of the eastern arm of the moat. A causeway across the north-eastern corner of the moat and two footbridges are modern but the brick bridge across the eastern arm was built in 1808 on the site of an original entrance and its stone footings are the medieval bridge abutments. Around three sides of the inner moat is an outer court, ranging between 20m and 35m across and surrounded by an outer moat

The northern arm of this moat is visible as a ditch 8m wide by 2m deep with an outer bank on its north side which is not clearly defined but is about 0.5m high and at most 8m wide. There are no upstanding remains of the outer curtain wall but its footings will survive below-ground. Although the eastern end of the ditch has been infilled since the 1920's, the 1911 edition of the Ordnance Survey map records that it extended for a further 40m east of its present terminal. The north-western corner of the moat is still clearly visible and, although the ditch is shallower, the northern end of the western arm can be seen. The western arm is largely infilled but will survive as a buried feature which runs just outside the walled garden of the hall; the post-medieval garden wall is a substantial 2.5m high structure and it is likely that it is founded on the medieval footings of the outer curtain wall. At its southern end, the western arm of the moat becomes visible again as a slight 8m wide depression running into an east-west ditch which is a westerly extension of the inner moat. This latter feature extends for 6m beyond the outer edge of the western arm where it now forms a small pond; originally this ditch may have continued west, towards a series of springs, and served as a leat supplying water to the castle moat. There is a slight indication that a corresponding feature, possibly the overflow drain, ran from the north-western corner of the outer moat. Although the eastern arm of the outer moat is no longer visible and its north-eastern corner lies beneath a group of stables, the infilled ditch, the curtain wall footings and the foundations of medieval structures within the outer court will survive below-ground; the extent of the outer court on this side is estimated to be equivalent to that on the western side. The village of Bossall is thought to derive its name from Bosa, a 7th century Archbishop of York, who reputedly founded a church dedicated to St Botolph on the site of the present church. Bossall was a thriving community in the medieval period and the buried remains of the medieval village are thought to survive to the north-west of the castle, in Old Bossall field. The quadrangular castle dates from the 14th century. Sir Robert Belt built the existing hall before 1644, probably demolishing the castle walls to obtain building materials for the house, although in 1885 his descendant, W J Belt, wrote that foundations of the double curtain wall, square towers, round towers and a barbican of the castle were still to be seen. (Scheduling Report)

Gatehouse Comments

Jean le Patourel writes a licence to crenellate was issued but gives no date. Gatehouse has concluded this is misattribution of the licence given to Buttercrambe Castle in the same parish. It should be noted that, while this is called a 'quadrangular castle' in the Scheduling Report, the site is not included in King's Castellarium Anglicanum or any other reasonable gazetteer of Yorkshire castles - there may have been some deliberate aggrandisement of the manor house by W J Belt. (N.B. King does list a 'Bossall' but this is clearly Buttercrambe)

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

This is a Grade 2 listed building protected by law

Historic England Scheduled Monument Number
Historic England Listed Building number(s)
Images Of England
Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSE717607
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  • Le Patourel, H.E. Jean, 1973, The Moated Sites of Yorkshire (The Society for Medieval Archaeology Monograph Series 5) p. 118
  • Pevsner, N., 1966, Buildings of England: Yorkshire: North Riding (London) p. 84
  • Page, Wm (ed), 1923, VCH Yorkshire: North Riding Vol. 2 p. 91-98 (tenurial history) online transcription
  • Belt, W.J., 1885, The story of Bossall Hall and manor: with supplement from early chronicles (John Sampson)


  • Historic England, 2016, Heritage at Risk Yorkshire Register 2016 (London: Historic England) p. 46 online copy
  • Historic England, 2015, Heritage at Risk Yorkshire Register 2015 (London: Historic England) p. 55 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2014, Heritage at Risk Register 2014 Yorkshire (London: English Heritage) p. 63 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2013, Heritage at Risk Register 2013 Yorkshire (London: English Heritage) p. 65 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2012, Heritage at Risk Register 2012 Yorkshire and the Humber (London: English Heritage) p. 85 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2011, Heritage at Risk Register 2011 Yorkshire and the Humber (London: English Heritage) p. 80 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2010, Heritage at Risk Register 2010 Yorkshire and the Humber (London: English Heritage) p. 84 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2009, Heritage at Risk Register 2009 Yorkshire and the Humber (London: English Heritage) p. 94 online copy