Thirsk Tenter Croft

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

There are earthwork remains

NameThirsk Tenter Croft
Alternative NamesMillgate
Historic CountryYorkshire
Modern AuthorityNorth Yorkshire
1974 AuthorityNorth Yorkshire
Civil ParishThirsk

The moated site 100m east of St Mary Magdalene's Church is a well-preserved example of a small homestead moat having the unusual addition of an external building platform. Due to its low-lying situation, the monument will retain waterlogged deposits containing well-preserved organic materials, not only in the accumulated silts of the ditches, but also in below-ground features on the moated island. The foundations of medieval buildings will also survive on the moated island and on the adjacent platform. The moated site lies close to the centre of modern Thirsk and is one of the few remaining visible features relating to the medieval settlement of the town.

The monument includes a moated site and an adjacent building platform, located on a bend of the Cod Beck between Old and New Thirsk. The area to the south has been recently developed as a car park but old maps show that the moat originally lay at the north end of a small island, having the river to its north and east and marshy land to the south and west. There is evidence that a medieval watermill was located in the vicinity of the moated site. The moated island is 20m square, surrounded by a ditch 1.5m deep by 12m wide with an outer bank up to 10m wide by 1m high on its north-western, north- eastern and south-eastern arms. A causeway crosses the mid point of the north-eastern arm. Adjacent to the south-western arm of the moat is a 1.5m high platform, 30m by 25m across at its base, now occupied by two small modern brick sheds; this is an unusual feature which was constructed using material excavated from the moat, to provide a flood-free platform for a medieval building associated with, but outlying the moated site. A small scale excavation on the site, undertaken at Whitsuntide in 1966, recovered some flints and sherds of pottery. (Scheduling Report)

Situation: The site lies in a marshy ground in a bend of Cod Beck, c

300m north-east of Thirsk I.

Preservation: The earthwork is generally well preserved as an earthwork under pasture, although the platform forming the west of the site is disturbed by the construction of two small brick buildings.

Description: The site comprises a square moated platform, c. 20 x 20m, partially surrounded by a low bank and accessed via an earthen causeway over the north-east arm. A low sub-circular platform, c. 25m across lies immediately to the east, artificially raised c. 1.5m above the natural land surface. Although conventionally identified as a moated site or island associated with a mill race, the earthwork may represent a remodelled motte and bailey, the low platform being the former motte and the main moat the bailey.

Excavation: Minor excavations in 1966 recovered some flints, coins and a single sherd of potteiy, although the work is not fully recorded. Geophysical survey during an evaluation in 1993 defined the square perimeter of the moat and detected an anomoly in the south-west corner of the main moated platform suggestive of a stone structure. Auger holes and three small trial trenches demonstrated the main platform to comprise sandy clay, and recovered sherds of medieval pottery including Tees Valley ware, and a medieval buckle. (Creighton 1998)

Gatehouse Comments

A mound next to a small square moat. Creighton suggests the possibility of this being a remodelled motte and bailey although the mound may also be upcast from digging the moat. There were two manors recorded at Thirsk in Domesday. One must have been managed from Thirsk Castle but both seem to have been merged at an early date. It seems unlikely this small moated site represented a manor house, unless for a steward of the abbey of Newburgh which held a reasonable package of land in the town from 1145.

- 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 ReferenceSE427823
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  • 1993, Moated Sites Research Group Report p. 62
  • Neck, et al, 1994, 'Medieval Britain and Ireland in 1993' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 38 p. 266 online copy


  • Creighton, O.H., 1998, Castles and Landscapes: An Archaeological Survey of Yorkshire and the East Midlands (PhD Thesis University of Leicester) p. 226-9, 628-9 online copy
  • Wright, J. and Noel, M.J., 1993 Nov 11, Topographic and Geophysical Survey of a Moated Site at Millgate (Geoquest Associates) online copy
  • Robinson, P., 1993, Archaeological Evaluation, Millgate Moated Site (Cleveland County Archaeology Section)