Doncaster Town Defences

Has been described as a Certain Urban Defence

There are no visible remains

NameDoncaster Town Defences
Alternative NamesGillot Bar; Hallgate Bar; Sun Bar; Bardike
Historic CountryYorkshire
Modern AuthorityDoncaster
1974 AuthoritySouth Yorkshire
Civil ParishDoncaster

At Doncaster the Normans reoccupied an old Roman site at a strategic crossing point of the river Don. A motte and bailey castle was built over the fort of Danum and the later anglo-saxon burgh. The town itself was laid out over the Roman civilian settlement. Richard I's borough charter confirmed the towns existing privileges in 1194, and a royal charter, which extended the fair from two to three days extended the existing market rights. Burgage plots have been traced along Frenchgate, High Street, St Sepulchre Gate, Baxter Gate and Scott Lane. The street pattern in the centre of the town was largely moulded by the town ditch and the earthen rampart created beside it. In the middle ages water from the Cheswold (the original course of the river Don) flowed along this ditch which was not in-filled until 1734. Four substantial stone gates stood at St Mary's bridge, St Sepulchre Gate, Hall Gate and Sunn Bar, marking the entrances to the town. An enormous market place lay in the south east corner of the town, which lay close to the wharf. The marketplace formed an extension of the churchyard of the original parish church of St Mary Magdalene, which stood on the site now occupied by the Victorian Corn Exchange. The market at Doncaster became nationally famous and served both the traffic from the river, and the traffic from the Great North Road. (PastScape ref. Hey, 1986)

Gatehouse Comments

Map reference for the Corn Exchange, site of lost parish church of St Mary Magdalene. NB. as at York the street name 'Gate' is derived from Viking Gata and means road, the gates were call Bars. Frenchgate was the street through the French quarter of the post-Conquest town.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSE574033
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink

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  • Salter, Mike, 2013, Medieval Walled Towns (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 60
  • Creighton, O.H. and Higham, R.A., 2005, Medieval Town Walls (Stroud: Tempus) p. 60, 179, 268
  • Hey, David, 2003, Medieval South Yorkshire (Landmark Publishing) p. 130-35
  • Salter, Mike, 2001, The Castles and Tower Houses of Yorkshire (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 36
  • Sneyd, Steve, 1995, The Devil's Logbook Castles and Fortified Sites around South Yorkshire (Hilltop Press) p. 10
  • Buckland, P.C., Magilton, J.R. and Hayfield, C., 1989, The Archaeology of Doncaster, The Medieval and Later Town (British Archaeological Reports: British series 202)
  • Bond, C.J., 1987, 'Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Defences' in Schofield, J. and Leech, R. (eds) Urban Archaeology in Britain (CBA Research Report 61) p. 92-116 (plan) online copy
  • Hey D., 1986, A regional history of England: Yorkshire from 1000 AD p. 137
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 534
  • Ryder, P.F., 1982 (paperback edn 1992), The Medieval Buildings of Yorkshire (Ash Grove Book) p. 141
  • Magilton, J.R., 1977, The Doncaster District: An Archaeological Survey (Doncaster) p. 32-6
  • Barley, M.W., 1975, 'Town Defences in England and Wales after 1066' in Barley (ed) The plans and topography of medieval towns in England and Wales (CBA Research Report 14) p. 57-71 plan p. 62 download/view online
  • Hunter, J., 1828, South Yorkshire. The History and Topography of the Deanery of Doncaster in the Diocese and County of York Vol. 1 p. 11
  • Miller, E., 1804, The History of Antiquities of Doncaster (Doncaster) p. 40 online copy


  • Chandler, John, 1993, John Leland's Itinerary: travels in Tudor England  (Sutton Publishing) p. 524-5
  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1907, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 1 p. 35 online copy
  • < >See the Gatehouse murage pages for full details of murage [grants >], p[etitions > ] and [other such >]. < >


  • Creighton, Oliver, 2006, ''Castles of Communities': Medieval Town Defences in England; Wales and Gascony' Château Gaillard Vol. 22 p. 75-86
  • 1973, 'The Yorkshire Archaeological Register: 1972' Yorkshire Archaeological Journal Vol. 45 p. 203
  • Buckland, P. and Dolby, M., 1972, 'Doncaster' Current Archaeology Vol. 33 p. 273-7
  • 1971, Medieval Archaeology Vol. 15 p. 135-6 download copy