Kirkby Fleetham Castle

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

There are earthwork remains

NameKirkby Fleetham Castle
Alternative NamesFletham; Hall Garth
Historic CountryYorkshire
Modern AuthorityNorth Yorkshire
1974 AuthorityNorth Yorkshire
Civil ParishKirkby Fleetham With Fencote

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 scheduling. (Scheduling Report)

Gatehouse Comments

Site of moated manor house, built in about 1314, when granted licence to crenellate, to Sir Henry Le Scrope, on the site of an earlier motte and bailey castle. Is this square motte actually a more conventional small circular motte recut into the fashionable square shape in the C14?

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSE284942
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Copyright Matthew Hatton and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.View full Sized Image
Copyright Matthew Hatton and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.View full Sized Image

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Primary Sources

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