Blackwell Castle Hill, Darlington

Has been described as a Possible Timber Castle (Motte)

There are cropmark/slight earthwork remains

NameBlackwell Castle Hill, Darlington
Alternative Names
Historic CountryDurham
Modern AuthorityDarlington
1974 AuthorityCounty Durham
Civil ParishDarlington

A considerable mound called Castle Hill at Blackwell, (said by Cade to be a Roman signal station) was nearly absorbed by the river; Boosefield (sic) however recalls it as a grassy eminence untouched by the river with a space used as a bowling green between it and the Tees. The present remains consist of only about half of the mound and it is said that the other half was destroyed by a flood in 1771. It is a similar earthwork to that at Middleton St George which is considered a probable motte and bailey (VCH, 1905).

The earthwork consists of an irregular elongated mound, circa 26.0m long and 7.5m high, separated from the River Tees by a shallow ditch which may be modern. In its present condition, ie partly denuded and tree-covered, it is difficult to associate it with a motte and bailey and it cannot now be determined whether the mound was originally higher than the natural spur overlooking it on the north east which it should have been if it were part of a defensive earthwork. There is no trace of any buildings on top of the mound or any of the rest of the earthwork in the broken ground down to the River Tees (F1 JHO 15-APR-53).

Castle Hill is now largely a natural feature. From a small circular summit 3.0m in diameter, it falls in long steep slopes to the flood plain of the River Tees stopping some 35.0m. from the present water line. Only on the south-east side is there any semblance of scarping, and the profile of an artificial mound rising 7.5m above traces of a ditch 3.0m. wide and 0.3m. deep. The whole is consistent with the remains of a probable motte, the original dimensions of which are no longer recoverable, sited near the end of a natural ridge with a defensive ditch on the landward side away from the River

Flood action in 1771 presumably eroded the base of the ridge causing a landslide, and the collapse of the major part of the mound, leaving the feature in its present form. A modern track passing close to the east side of the Hill, and surrounding properties have obliterated any possible trace of an associated bailey (F2 RE 23-OCT-81). (PastScape)

Not scheduled

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceNZ273130
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  • Salter, Mike, 2002, The Castles and Tower Houses of County Durham (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 25
  • Jackson, M.J., 1996, Castles of Durham and Cleveland (Carlisle) p. 26
  • Corfe, Tom (ed), 1992, 'The Visible Middle Ages' in An Historical Atlas of County Durham p. 28-9
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 139 (possible)
  • Gould, Chalkley, 1905, 'Ancient Earthworks' in Page, Wm (ed), VCH Durham Vol. 1 (London) p. 354 online copy
  • Whellan, F., 1894 (2edn), History, Topography and Directory of the County of Durham p. 445
  • Bousfield, J., 1881, Pleasant Memories of Darlington and Neighbourhood p. 76
  • Longstaffe, W.H.D., 1854, History of Darlington (Darlington) p. 118 online copy
  • Surtees, R., 1816 (1972 Reprint), The History and Antiquities of the County Palatine of Durham (London) Vol. 3 p. 369-70 online transcription
  • Hutchinson, Wm, 1785-94, The History and Antiquities of the County Palatine of Durham Vol. 3 p. 233 online copy


  • Cade, J. 1789, 'Some observations on the Roman station Cataractonium with an account of Antiquities in the neighbourhood of Piersbridge and Gainford' Archaeologia Vol. 9 p. 288 (brief) online copy


  • 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