Aldborough Studforth Hill

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Ringwork)

There are earthwork remains

NameAldborough Studforth Hill
Alternative NamesStuteville; Stodart; Stodhart; Vetus Burgus; The Stadium
Historic CountryYorkshire
Modern AuthorityNorth Yorkshire
1974 AuthorityNorth Yorkshire
Civil ParishBoroughbridge

Outside the south east corner of Isurium is a raised platform or earthwork 70 yds. long and 10 yds. wide, called the Stadium. It is thought to have been the place for the celebration of games and races (Lawson-Tancred, 1948)).

In the same vicinity is a bowl-shaped depression interpreted by Collingwood as an amphitheatre but shown on this plan as an embanked enclosure (Collingwood, 1930).

A partial section of its northern 'bank' in 1935 showed that it was apparently natural (YAJ, 1959).

On the south side of the Stadium is Studforth Hill which in Leland's time resembled a castle. Although it has since been ploughed over, it still has traces of a bailey and is listed as a motte and bailey (VCH, 1912).

In its present form, Studforth Hill has no resemblance to a normal castle mound or motte. The remains, however, when associated with the Stadium and the "bowl-shaped depression", indicate a former enclosure of some strength which seems to amount to a type of ring motte or ring earthwork. It is probable that part of the scarp forming the raised platform of the Stadium is, in fact, the north end of an oval shaped ring work, and that Studforth Hill is the southern end. The bowl-shaped depression is between these banks and would seem to be the remains of the cratered interior after ploughing had levelled the east and west sides. This ploughing has resulted in the lateral scarping and the general raising of the ground level giving a platform effect. There are no traces of a separate bailey or of any ditch (F1 EC Waight/27-JUN-1963/OS Archaeology Division Field Investigation).

Studforth Hill is a ploughed-out motte, probably the Vetus Burgus of the Pipe Rolls 1205-6 (and Rot.Chart 44) (Renn).

A castle is documented at Aldborough in 1158-75, when it was in royal hands, and from 1175-1205 when it was in baronial hands, at which time it was called Stuteville

It was confiscated by the Crown in 1205 (Allen Brown).

The crescent shaped remains of Studforth Hill and a scarp slope that marks the northern end of the feature known as the Stadium are both visible as earthworks on historic and recent air photos and on lidar-derived images. at SE4065 6586. The mound or hill measures approximately 61m across. It overlooks to the north an area labelled as the Stadium on the Ordnance Survey map of 1893. The scarp slope appears to demarcate the northern and eastern side of the Stadium. The interior contains medieval ridge and furrow. (PastScape)

Gatehouse Comments

This appears to have originally been a Roman amphitheatre serving the nearby town of Isurium Brigantum. Reuse of a Roman amphitheatre as a medieval ringwork can also be seen at Silchester in Hampshire.

- 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 ReferenceSE406659
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  • Turner, Maurice, 2004, Yorkshire Castles: Exploring Historic Yorkshire (Otley: Westbury Publishing) p. 92, 102, 109-10, 174, 234
  • Salter, Mike, 2001, The Castles and Tower Houses of Yorkshire (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 16
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 310 (slight)
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 512
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 88
  • Collingwood, R.G. and Richmond, I., 1969, The Archaeology of Roman Britain (London: Methuen)
  • Lawson-Tancred, M.E., 1948 3edn, A guide book to the antiquities of Aldborough and Boroughbridge and a short account of their history (Boroughbridge : J. Topham & Son) p. 18
  • Armitage and Montgomerie, 1912, in Page, Wm (ed), VCH Yorkshire Vol. 2 p. 45
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)


  • Chandler, John, 1993, John Leland's Itinerary: travels in Tudor England  (Sutton Publishing) p. 560
  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1909, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 4 p. 27 online copy


  • Martin Wainwright, 2011 Aug 17, 'Archaeologist digs into grandad's tale to uncover lost Yorkshire amphitheatre' The Guardian (news report on Roman results from archaeological investigation) online copy
  • Butler, Lawrence, 1994, 'The Origins of the Honour of Richmond and its Castles' Château Gaillard Vol. 16 p. 69-80 (Reprinted in Liddiard, Robert, (ed), 2003, Anglo-Norman Castles p. 91-103 (Woodbridge: Boydell Press))
  • Jones, M.U., 1971, 'Aldborough, West Riding, 1964: excavations at the south gate and bastion and at extra-mural sites' Yorkshire Archaeological Journal Vol. 43 p. 39-78
  • Brown, R. Allen, 1959, 'A List of Castles, 1154–1216' English Historical Review Vol. 74 p. 249-280 (Reprinted in Brown, R. Allen, 1989, Castles, conquest and charters: collected papers (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 90-121) view online copy (subscription required)
  • 1959, Yorkshire Archaeological Journal Vol. 40 p. 5
  • Jessop, C.M., 1850, 'Observations respecting Aldborough' Journal of the British Archaeological Association Vol. 5 p. 74-5 online copy

Primary Sources

  • The Great Roll of the Pipe for the seventh year of the reign of King John Michaelmas 1205 (Pipe Roll Society 57)
  • Hardy, T.D. (ed), 1837, Rotuli Chartarum, 1199-1216 (Record Commission) p. 44 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
  • Creighton, O.H., 1998, Castles and Landscapes: An Archaeological Survey of Yorkshire and the East Midlands (PhD Thesis University of Leicester) p. 577-8 online copy