Killerby Castle

Has been described as a Questionable Timber Castle (Motte), and also as a Questionable Masonry Castle, and also as a Certain Fortified Manor House

There are no visible remains

NameKillerby Castle
Alternative NamesKilwardby; Kilwardeby; Killarby
Historic CountryYorkshire
Modern AuthorityNorth Yorkshire
1974 AuthorityNorth Yorkshire
Civil ParishKillerby

At Killerby, west of Appleton, may still be traced the foundations of the castle built in a strong position by Brian Fitz Alan, lord of Bedale. (VCH)

Soon after the Conquest, Killerby was granted by the Earl of Richmond to Schollandus of Bedale, his Sewer. His granddaughter Agnes carried it in marriage to Brian Fitz-Alan, one of whose descendants, in the 19th of Edward I. (1291), had a license to make a Castle at his Manor of Kilwardeby. Leland says that "the Lord Lovell had a Castelle at Killerby, within a quarter of a mile of the ripe citerioris of Swale, a myle benethe Katerik Bridge: there appeare," he continues, "greate ruines." And in another place the "royal antiquary" observes, " Mastar Metcalfe hierithe the lordshipe of the Kinge. Some say that ther cam water by couductus into the topps of some of the towers."

From the situation of this Castle it might have bidden defiance to any force that could have been brought against it. Being entirely insulated by water to a very considerable distance, and in a flat country, it would be approached by a very narrow causeway. Killerby Carr extended as low down as Kirkby Fleetham, and was filled with bulrushes and aquatic trees. Though thus situated it stood on a fine sloping bank of 20 or 30 acres, that gradually rose from the edge of the water. From the foundations which have been discovered, the Castle must have been of great magnitude. At what time it fell into ruin is not known. In the Church of Bedale is a monumental effigy of Sir Brian Fitz-Alan, Earl of Arundell, the founder of the Castles of Bedale and Killerby.

The present mansion, Killerby Hall, the seat of John B. Booth, Ear, occupies the site of the Castle. It is a substantial square building, situated on a gentle slope, and in well-wooded and well-watered grounds. (Whellan 1859)

Gatehouse Comments

Said to be the site of an earlier motte and bailey but the evidence for this seems slight and may be a confabulation with the nearby motte and bailey of Killerby Castle Hills. The PastScape record suggests there is some question as to the location of the licenced house although there can be little real doubt that it was on, or very near to, the site occupied by Killerby Hall. The form of house, whilst not absolutely known, certainly seems to have included several towers and to have been moated.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSE258960
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  • Salter, Mike, 2001, The Castles and Tower Houses of Yorkshire (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 50
  • Jackson, M.J., 2001, Castles of North Yorkshire (Carlisle) p. 9-10
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 301 (slight)
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 519
  • Page, Wm (ed), 1914, VCH Yorkshire: North Riding Vol. 1 p. 293-4, 303, 306-7 online transcription
  • Armitage and Montgomerie, 1912, in Page, Wm (ed), VCH Yorkshire Vol. 2 p. 32
  • Speight, H., 1897, Romantic Richmondshire p. 148 online copy
  • Whellan T, 1859, History and topography of the city of York and the North Riding of Yorkshire Vol. 2 p. 360 online copy
  • Turner, T.H. and Parker, J.H., 1859, Some account of Domestic Architecture in England (Oxford) Vol. 3 Part 2 p. 403 online copy


  • Chandler, John, 1993, John Leland's Itinerary: travels in Tudor England  (Sutton Publishing) p. 564, 572
  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1909, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 4 p. 26 online copy


  • Butler, Lawrence, 1994, 'The Origins of the Honour of Richmond and its Castles' Château Gaillard Vol. 16 p. 69-80 (Reprinted in Liddiard, Robert, (ed), 2003, Anglo-Norman Castles p. 91-103 (Woodbridge: Boydell Press))
  • Chetwynd-Stapylton, H.E., 1884, 'The Stapletons of Richmondshire' Yorkshire Archaeological Journal Vol. 8 p. 99 online copy

Primary Sources

  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1893, Calendar of Patent Rolls Edward I (1281-91) Vol. 2 p. 445 online copy