Caernarvon Castle, Beckermet

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

There are earthwork remains

NameCaernarvon Castle, Beckermet
Alternative NamesConeygarth Cop; Ivy Hill
Historic CountryCumberland
Modern AuthorityCumbria
1974 AuthorityCumbria
Civil ParishSt John Beckermet

In 1671 "Caernarvon Castle" was a rectangular ruin 100 yards long by about 85 yards broad, with a ditch 12 yards wide and 4 yards deep. It stood upon a plateau approached from east and west. Opposite the latter was an artificial hill called Coneygarth cop, about 12 yards high and 6 yards across the top. Caernarvon Castle was the seat of Sir Michael Flemming, its first owner, who died in 1153. The castle was abandoned about 1250 and pulled down. (Ferguson, Collingwood)

Sir Daniel Fleming's description of Coneygarth Cop is interpreted by Collingwood as a Norman moated mound with base court. (This has resulted in publication on OS 1:25 000 1952 of Coneygarth Cop as a Motte & Bailey, and the equation of the Cop and Caernarvon Castle on OS 1:10 560 1956)

Short trenches cut across the apparently filled-in ditch at the Caernarvon Castle site in 1957 revealed traces of rubble walls with stones about 2ft by 1-1/2ft. A cobbled area was found just north of Coneygarth Cop at a depth of 3 feet. Excavations unpublished. (PastScape)

Beckermet (Caernarvon Castle) NY022073. Considered a motte and bailey (Curwen; Parker). A low shapeless mound; no reason to suppose that there ever any artificial earthwork here. (King 1983 {King's description does not seem to concur with this site and it may be he has confabulated his records for Caernarvon and Wodowbank a supposed motte a few hundred meters to the west. Unfortunately this lead to confusion in early (before August 2012) version of the Gatehouse record.}

Gatehouse Comments

Jackson says site is ploughed down and that excavation in 1962 revealed evidence of a form of palisading. The site appears to be a natural ridge end with the suggestion of a bank and ditch on the north side forming a ovoid enclosure, with the scarp slopes. Coneygarth Cop lies on the south west side with no evidence of being enditched. A square banked and ditched enclosure lies in the North East. The Caernarvon name may suggest a fortified site was here before Saxon occupation. The site does resemble a small well eroded Iron Age promontory fort. Coneygarth Cop may be any of several types of artificial mounds of which a large pillow mound (rabbit warren), as suggested by the name, is one (Parker suggests the Coney name comes from a corrupted form of the Anglo-Saxon Cyning - King). Other possibilities include a windmill stead (The site has been called Mill Hill but Parker writes this was because it was held by the nearby water mill) or natural. However, the dimensions of the hill given in C17, as 12 yards high, would suggest a motte although it may be that 12 yards is a misreading/mistranscription of 12 feet - which would be more in line with a pillow mound. The manor was held by the Fleming family. The family moved to Coniston in 1250, but a secondary residence may have been retained here or, alternatively, this may have become the site of a warrener's lodge. The historical evidence certainly suggests a castle, of the Flemings, near Beckermet from the late C11

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceNY021073
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  • Salter, Mike, 1998, The Castles and Tower Houses of Cumbria (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 29
  • Perriam, Denis and Robinson, John, 1998, The Medieval Fortified Buildings of Cumbria (Kendal: CWAAS Extra Series 29) p. 99
  • Jackson, M.J.,1990, Castles of Cumbria (Carlisle: Carel Press) p. 37-8
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 96 (reject)
  • Crawford, G. and George, C., 1983, Copeland Archaeological Survey (Kendal) p. 21
  • Parker, C.A. (new edn rev. Collingwood, W.G.), 1926, The Gosforth District: Its Antiquities and Places of Interest (Kendal: CWAAS Extra Series 15) p. 127-31
  • Curwen, J.F., 1913, Castles and Fortified Towers of Cumberland, Westmorland and Lancashire North of the Sands (Kendal: CWAAS Extra Series 13) p. 21-2
  • Collingwood, W.G., 1901, 'Remains of the pre-Norman Period' in H.Arthur Doubleday (ed), VCH Cumberland Vol. 1 p. 291 online copy
  • Jefferson, S., 1849, The Antiquities of West Cumberland (Carlisle)


  • Historical Manuscripts Commission, 1890, The Manuscripts of S. H. Le Fleming, Esq., of Rydal Hall (London: HMSO) p. 282 online copy
  • Ferguson, R.S., (ed), 1889, Description of the County of Cumberland by Daniel Fleming of Rydal A.D. 1671 (Kendal: T. Wilson for the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Tract Series no. 3) p. 6-8 online copy


  • Parker, C.A., 1903, 'Caernarvon Castle, a forgotten Stronghold' Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Vol. 3 p. 214-221 (plan) online copy
  • Loftie, A.G., 1887-8, 'Calder Abbey' Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Vol. 9 p. 227-8 online copy


  • Clare, T., 1982, A Report on Medieval Fortified Sites in Cumbria (Cumbria CC)