Crazy Castle, Skelton

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

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameCrazy Castle, Skelton
Alternative NamesSkelton Castle; Sceltune
Historic CountryYorkshire
Modern AuthorityRedcar & Cleveland
1974 AuthorityCleveland
Civil ParishSkelton And Brotton

The original timber castle of Skelton, built by Richard de Surdeval circa 1072-75 formed part of a 'burgus' or communal fortified enclosure which also had a church and small seignoral village. The 'burgus' occupied a diamond-shaped promontory, 5 1/2 acres in extent, surrounded by a dry defensive moat, 240 ft wide and 50 ft deep, which was scarped out of the slopes of the natural ravines on the east and west sides. The timber castle was converted into a stone structure with rectangular keep and associated domestic buildings circa 1190-1200 and appeared to be ruinous in 1490. In 1788-4 the castle was completely demolished and the present building constructed. According to l'Anson, an 18th century drawing of the 12th century castle suggests that the keep was built on a lowered motte. VCH also refer to the drawing and in addition state that a still traceable (1912) depression separating the castle from the 'burgus' seems to indicate the existence of a former motte (l'Anson, VCH 1912, 1923) Skelton Castle, with Medieval north wing heightened 19th century and 18th century south block, remodelled circa 1800 but incorporating early walls and late 14th century window. The outer bank of the moat at the north end was washed away circa 1865 during drainage operations. The site of a possible infilled moat indicated by made up earth was discovered south of the castle when the drive was widened. No trace of the original castle(s) in the present building and no trace of the possible moat noted by Mrs Ringrose-Wharton. The surrounding moat is well defined and would appear to have been a natural ravine artificially shaped around the castle buildings but more in its original state to the south. The average width is circa 50.0m and approximately 10.0m deep with three modern causeways carrying roads across it. The moat is dry except at NZ 65301917 where a boating lake is situated. No trace of a motte mentioned in l'Anson and VCH (Field Investigators Comments–F1 JHO 29-MAY-53)


Gatehouse Comments

Very large promontory site the flanking valleys having been widened into enormous ditches. Castle at the end with burgus in front. Said to have been originally built in C11. Pulled down in 1788. Grade 1 listed C18 mansion on site which incorporates medieval north wing and bits of wall and windows. The medieval north wing and bits of wall and windows are incorporated in the current building. The well defined course of a moat can be traced. Medieval castle of de Brus family.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

This is a Grade 1 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 ReferenceNZ651193
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Photo by Philip Davis. All Rights Reserved

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Latitude 54° 33' 53.49" Longitude 0° 59' 37.11"

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Photo by Philip Davis. All Rights Reserved

() above

Latitude 54° 33' 53.49" Longitude 0° 59' 37.11"

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  • Camden, Wm, 1607, Britannia hypertext critical edition by Dana F. Sutton (2004)
  • Chandler, John, 1993, John Leland's Itinerary: travels in Tudor England  (Sutton Publishing) p. 563
  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1908, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 2 p. 7 online copy


  • Speight, Sarah, 2004, ''Religion in the Bailey: Charters, Chapels and the Clergy' Cha^teau Gaillard Vol. 21 p. 271-80
  • Creighton, O.H., 2004, ''The Rich Man in his Castle, The Poor Man at His Gate': Castle Baileys and Settlement Patterns in Norman England' Cha^teau Gaillard Vol. 21 p. 25-36
  • Screeton, A., 2001, 'Skelton village, history and excavation' Yorkshire Archaeological Journal Vol. 73 p. 3-18
  • Brown, R. Allen, 1959, 'A List of Castles, 1154–1216' English Historical Review Vol. 74 p. 249-280 (Reprinted in Brown, R. Allen, 1989, Castles, conquest and charters: collected papers (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 90-121) view online copy (subscription required) p. 277
  • I'Anson, W.M., 1913, 'The castles of the North Riding' Yorkshire Archaeological Journal Vol. 22 p. 380-390 (plan)

Primary Sources

  • Dugdale, William (Caley, J., Ellis, H. and Bandinel, B. (eds)), 1817-30 (originally pub. 1655-73), Monasticon Anglicanum (London) Vol. 6.1 p. 267 online copy
  • Hardy, T.D. (ed), 1835, Rotuli Litterarum Patentium in Turri Londinensi Asservati (1201-16) (Record Commission) p. 165, 167 view online copy
  • Stubbs, W. (ed), 1880, The Minor Works comprising the Gesta regum with its continuation, the Actus pontificum, and the Mappa mundi, by Gervase, the Monk of Canterbury (London: Longman Rolls series 73) Vol. 2 p. 440 online copy
  • Rickard, John, 2002, The Castle Community. The Personnel of English and Welsh Castles, 1272-1422 (Boydell Press) (lists sources for 1272-1422) p. 496-70


  • Constable, Christopher, 2003, Aspects of the archaeology of the castle in the north of England C 1066-1216 (Doctoral thesis, Durham University) Available at Durham E-Theses Online
  • Creighton, O.H., 1998, Castles and Landscapes: An Archaeological Survey of Yorkshire and the East Midlands (PhD Thesis University of Leicester) p. 288, 528-9 online copy