Goltho Manor

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Motte Ringwork)

There are cropmark/slight earthwork remains

NameGoltho Manor
Alternative Names
Historic CountryLincolnshire
Modern AuthorityLincolnshire
1974 AuthorityLincolnshire
Civil ParishGoltho

Early medieval settlement, motte and bailey, and medieval village consisting of a moat, and crofts with buildings, seen as cropmarks and earthworks. Excavation revealed an early medieval ringwork and medieval motte and tower. Roman features have been recorded separately (TF 17 NW 37). The motte and bailey has been levelled and the site cultivated. (PastScape)

The chronology of the site has been given as follows: A Romano-British settlement of late 1st and 2nd century date, including a substantial Roman building. An unenclosed settlement of middle Saxon date, including timber and clay buildings, predated the development of a serise of fortified enclosures. A stave-built hall, bower, kitchen and weaving shed were constructed around 850, surrounded by a defensive rampart and ditch. A sequence of rebuildings was followed by a replanning in the period around 1000-1080 within a larger enclosure, again surrounded by a rampart and ditch. Around 1080 a motte and bailey castle was constructed.

The motte lay in the north east of a rectangular earthwork enclosed with a gatehouse and a bridge located to the east side. Two successive single-aisled halls of clay with vertical posts provided domestic accomodation. In the mid 12th century the bailey banks were pulled in to create a flat-topped mound for a timber aisled hall and ancillary buildings which was adandoned shortly afterwards. By the mid-12th century the manor is believed to have been in the hands of the Kyme family.

Aerial photographs show the site both before and after it was levelled with the ditch showing as a cropmark following the destruction of the site. The site of the motte and bailey was formerly contained within a scheduled area including the earthwork remains of the medieval settlement. The whole site was descheduled in 1982. (PastScape–ref. Drury, D

14-SEP-1998 English Heritage Alternative Action Report)

Situation: The castle/manor site lay on a thin, slightly elevated, lens of sand in the south-east comer of the former earthworks of Goltho DMV; both occupy a low-lying clayland site.

Preservation: The excavations of the manor and DMV took place in anticipation of agricultural clearance; this has eradicated all traces of manorial and village earthworks.

Description: Prior to excavation, the site comprised a low mound of squarish plan, c . 48m across. The feature was entirely surrounded by a shallow yet wide ditch with a maximum width of c . 16m and similarly square plan, although the churchyard cut through part of the north-east comer. A low bank and second minor ditch stood external to the ditch on the south and east sides, the southern element projecting further west to partially define an oval enclosure - presumably a former bailey - extending c . 28m beyond the line of the ditch.

Excavation: The site was extensively excavated by G. Beresford between 1971-74, establishing a remarkable sequence of occupation, although the precise dating of the phases has remained a subject for debate. The dates given below follow Beresford’s chronology:

Phase I (c. AD 50-200): Romano-British occupation, comprising a sequence of three circular houses.

Phase II (c. 800-850): A middle Saxon settlement of timber and clay houses standing within large earthwork enclosures fronting on to a street.

Phase III (c. 850-950): A large, fortified oval enclosure containing a complex of timber buildings interpreted as a bow-sided hall, weaving shed, kitchen and bower.

Phase IV (c. 950-1000): A rebuilt complex of timber buildings, enclosed within an unchanged fortification.

Phase V (c. 1000-1080): Reconstruction of the timber buildings within a fortified egg-shaped enclosure of increased size and strength.

Phase VI (c. 1080-1150): A small timber-revetted motte with timber tower was raised in the north-east comer of the enclosure, forming a single bailey containing a small hall.

Phase VII (c. 1150): The bailey was filled in and the motte and ramparts lowered to form a large flat castle mound supporting a large aisled hall.

Re-assessments of Beresford’s dating have focussed on the Period 3 complex, suggesting that analysis of the ceramics assemblage as opposed to the historical logic employed by the excavator as a dating aid suggest a probable 10th-century date for this phase of the site, with the implication that subsequent phases may be dated too early.

Documentation: The castle site is not mentioned specifically in contemporary documentation; the alleged connection with the Kyme family is based wholly on the circumstantial evidence of manorial descent. (Creighton 1998)

Paul Everson suggests that the finds and documentary evidence supports a later dating - at the earliest in the late 1130s; with a possible enforced slighting of the earthworks in c. 1217 (Lincolnshire HER)

Gatehouse Comments

This is a site than has undergone a rare extensive and detailed excavation and was found to have had a complex history. This started as a Saxon defended manorial site and had the earthworks modified on several occasions (and timber buildings rebuilt) including use as a Norman castle. The excavation of this site was utterly destructive turning what looked to be a straightforward motte and bailey into a cropmark, undetectable on the ground. However without such an intense excavation the earlier Anglo-Saxon manor and the development of the site from a Ringwork to a Motte and Bailey is unlikely to have been understood or even known. One of the most important sites in castle studies but, as can be seen by the limited online information, one little known outside academic fields. There has been some considerable discussion as to the dating of the various phases suggested by Beresford. The issue does not seem to be settled although, at this time (2015) it seems Beresford's initial phasing seems to be back in favour.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceTF115773
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Photo by Philip Davis. All Rights Reserved

() above

Latitude 53° 16' 55.84" Longitude 0° 19' 38.18"

View full Sized Image
Photo by Philip Davis. All Rights Reserved

() above

Latitude 53° 16' 55.84" Longitude 0° 19' 38.18"

View full Sized Image
Photo by Philip Davis. All Rights Reserved

() above

Latitude 53° 16' 55.84" Longitude 0° 19' 38.18"

View full Sized Image

Most of the sites or buildings recorded in this web site are NOT open to the public and permission to visit a site must always be sought from the landowner or tenant.

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  • Mark Gardiner, 2017, 'Manorial farmsteads and the expression of lordship before and after the Norman Conquest' in Dawn M Hadley and Christopher Dyer, The Archaeology of the 11th Century Continuities and Transformations (Routledge) p. 88-103
  • Goodall, John, 2011, The English Castle 1066-1650 (Yale University Press) p. 55, 57
  • Osborne, Mike, 2010, Defending Lincolnshire: A Military History from Conquest to Cold War (The History Press) p. 24, 33-35
  • Salter, Mike, 2002, The Castles of the East Midlands (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 50
  • Roffe, David, 1993, 'Castles' in Bennett, S. and Bennett, N. (eds), An Historical Atlas of Lincolnshire (University of Hull Press) p. 40-1
  • Higham, R. and Barker, P., 1992, Timber Castles (Batsford) p. 281-6
  • < >Beresford, G. et al, 1987, Goltho: the development of an early medieval manor c 850–1150 (London: English Heritage) < > (The major text for this site) Download via ADS
  • Bassett, S.R., 1985, 'Beyond the edge of excavation: the topographical context of Goltho' in Mayr-Harting, H. and Moore, R.I. (eds), Studies in Medieval History Presented to R.H.C. Davis (London: Hambledon) p. 21-39 online copy
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 265
  • Beresford, Guy, 1982, 'Goltho Manor, Lincolnshire: The Buildings and their Surrounding Defences c.850-1150' in Brown, R.Allen (ed), Proceedings of the Battle Conference on Anglo-Norman Studies 4, 1981 (Boydell Press) p. 13-36, 171-4
  • Beresford, G., 1975, The Medieval Clay-Land Village: Excavations at Goltho and Barton Blount (London: Society for Medieval Archaeology Monograph 6)


  • 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
  • Everson, P.,1990 'The problem of Goltho' Medieval Settlement Research Group Annual Report Vol. 5 p. 9-14 online copy
  • Stocker, D., 1989, 'Review of G. Beresford, 'Goltho: The Development of of an Early Medieval Manor c. 850-1150'' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 146 p. 627-9
  • Everson, P.,1988, 'What's in a name? “Goltho”, Goltho and Bullington' Lincolnshire History and Archaeology Vol. 23 p. 93–9
  • Hodges, R., 1988, 'Origins of the English castle' Nature Vol. 333 p. 112–13
  • Beresford, Guy, 1977, 'The excavation of the deserted medieval village of Goltho, Lincolnshire' Château Gaillard Vol. 8 p. 47-68 plates 1 and 4
  • Selkirk, A., 1975-6, 'Goltho, a deserted medieval village and its manor house' Current Archaeology Vol. 5 p. 262-70
  • (Beresford), 1974, Medieval Archaeology Vol. 18 p. 210-11 download copy


  • Creighton, O.H., 1998, Castles and Landscapes: An Archaeological Survey of Yorkshire and the East Midlands (PhD Thesis University of Leicester) p. 53-63, 432-3 online copy