Acklam Motte

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

There are earthwork remains

NameAcklam Motte
Alternative Names
Historic CountryYorkshire
Modern AuthorityNorth Yorkshire
1974 AuthorityNorth Yorkshire
Civil ParishAcklam

A type of motte and bailey castle adapted to suit its location on a promontory projecting from the lower scarp of the Wolds. The castle lies near a hamlet known as Scotland, on the south side of Acklam Beck, about 350m south-west of the parish church. The steep-sided promontory offers a naturally defensive position requiring only slight additional fortification but, while this means that the motte and bailey earthworks are not massive, the essential elements of this type of castle, a main stronghold and one or more outer courts, can be identified. To the west and south of the promontory the steep scarp was not greatly modified, although a wooden palisade will have been constructed at the top of the scarp and the trenches or pits dug to accommodate the timbers will survive as buried features. Along the northern side the scarp is less steep and here a ditch with an outer bank was constructed; despite recent terracing of the hillside to the south of the modern poultry houses, the ditch is still visible as a 5m wide linear depression over most of its length and the western part of the bank survives as a 1m high, 5m wide earthwork in the corner of the field to the north-west of the castle. The spine of the promontory rises gradually to the west and its highest point has been artificially shaped to form a slight knoll approximately 15m in diameter; this will have served as the motte, originally the site of a stout wooden tower. On the western side of the motte the ground falls away gradually, providing a gentle sloping plateau surrounded by the steeply scarped edge of the promontory. This plateau, which measures at least 20m north-south by 30m east-west, was used as a western bailey of the castle. The eastern side of the motte was strengthened by an 8m wide ditch across the spine of the hill, dividing the motte from the relatively level ground to the east

This area, measuring 40m east-west by 20m north-south, served as a second bailey and was bounded on its eastern side by an artificially terraced scarp which was 1m high with a slight ditch at its foot. The flat area between the outer edge of the eastern bailey and the modern road leading up Pasture Hill was the site of a third, outer bailey. The eastern rampart of this bailey will have lain adjacent to the road and, as it will have been altered over the years by its incorporation into the field boundary, the rampart is no longer visible as an earthwork. The motte and bailey at Acklam is very similar, in form and topographical location, to the nearby castle at Mount Ferrant in Birdsall, although the latter is built on a much larger scale. It may be that Acklam was an outlying stronghold of the Fossard family. The original timber castle may have been rebuilt in stone. (Scheduling Report)

Gatehouse Comments

Described as hopelessly worn down, or perhaps unfinished.

- 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 ReferenceSE783613
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Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All rights reserved View full Sized Image

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  • Salter, Mike, 2001, The Castles and Tower Houses of Yorkshire (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 16
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 531 (possible)


  • Moorhouse, S.A., 1968, Yorkshire Archaeological Journal Vol. 42 p. 109


  • 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
  • Creighton, O.H., 1998, Castles and Landscapes: An Archaeological Survey of Yorkshire and the East Midlands (PhD Thesis University of Leicester) p. 577 online copy