North Deighton Howe Hill

Has been described as a Possible Timber Castle (Motte), and also as a Possible Masonry Castle

There are earthwork remains

NameNorth Deighton Howe Hill
Alternative Names
Historic CountryYorkshire
Modern AuthorityNorth Yorkshire
1974 AuthorityNorth Yorkshire
Civil ParishNorth Deighton

Although the earthworks of the bailey are somewhat degraded, the motte mound of Howe Hill motte and bailey castle still survives in good condition, and retains masonry of the original tower on its summit. Archaeological deposits relating to the original occupation and the configuration of the bailey ditch and bank will also survive intact beneath the ground surface. The monument is thought to be the original site of Spofforth Manor House, given to the Northumberland Percy family at the time of the Norman Conquest. The monument includes a motte and bailey castle situated 250m to the east of Howe Hill Farm. The motte mound survives to a height of up to 20m and has an overall diameter of up to 30m. It is surrounded by a bailey bank which to the south and east survives to a height of up to 0.7m, and is between 2m to 4m wide. Bailey earthworks also survive less clearly to the west of the motte. Masonry of the original tower survives on the summit of the motte, which is reputed to have been the site of the original Spofforth Manor house of the Percy family, given to them at the time of the Norman Conquest. (Scheduling Report)

A steep-sided earthen mound which could equally be a barrow, but either way there is no sign of a quarry ditch around the base. Covered in dense gorse and other vegetation and a major badger sett on the south side - the Field Monument Warden is to speak to English Nature about this. There is a clear area on the east side which has lots of rabbit holes and wild flowers including pignut, cowslips and knapweed. Earthworks to the east within the narrow funnel-shaped field are ambiguous but could be water management? They seem to drain into ditches along the field boundaries. Ridge and furrow comes close in to the base and survives well to the west, together with a marked bank which has been interpreted as a bailey bank but I am dubious about this. The scheduled area seems fairly arbitrary on the ground and ignores these other earthworks

(North Yorkshire HER ref. Smith, L., 2003, pers corr )

Gatehouse Comments

David King (1983) record this as 'possible' a term he tended to use for doubtful sites. The site is about 400m from the modern manor house and settlement centre which makes it somewhat isolated but not unlikely a few castle site. There are many burial mounds surviving in the local area and Howe Hill is sometimes identified as a Bronze Age barrow (although this identification may be a confabulation with nearby Green Howe, an excavated barrow). The scheduling report seems elderly and may well be in need of revision. In particular the nature of the 'masonry of the original tower' needs investigation. Certainly this does not seem to have been visible to King or Smith (but the mound is overgrown). The mound is visible from North Deighton Manor House and the masonry may possibly represent some post-medieval landscape eyecatcher.

- 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 ReferenceSE393516
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  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 531 (possible)
  • Wood, E.S., 1952, Archaeology of Nidderdale p. 40


  • Clark, G.T., 1889, 'Contribution towards a complete list of moated mounds or burhs' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 46 p. 197-217 esp. 215 online copy


  • Historic England, 2016, Heritage at Risk Yorkshire Register 2016 (London: Historic England) p. 29 online copy
  • Historic England, 2015, Heritage at Risk Yorkshire Register 2015 (London: Historic England) p. 36 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2014, Heritage at Risk Register 2014 Yorkshire (London: English Heritage) p. 40 online copy (New entry in 2014)
  • Creighton, O.H., 1998, Castles and Landscapes: An Archaeological Survey of Yorkshire and the East Midlands (PhD Thesis University of Leicester) p. 612 online copy