Carlton in Coverdale Round Hill

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

There are earthwork remains

NameCarlton in Coverdale Round Hill
Alternative Names
Historic CountryYorkshire
Modern AuthorityNorth Yorkshire
1974 AuthorityNorth Yorkshire
Civil ParishCarlton Town

A motte consisting of an earthen mound about 32.0m diameter and 3.7m high constructed from the spoil of a surrounding ditch (1.6m deep and 4.1m average width) with the steep slopes of a stream forming the north side. The top is relatively flat 9.0m in diameter with a slight downward slope towards the north north west. About 2.0m north west of the centre, two apparently dressed stone blocks protrude through the turf. (PastScape ref. Field Investigators Comments–F1 AGM 22-AUG-77)

No date or purpose has been assigned to the small steep motte and bailey at Carlton in Coverdale but it was probably an outpost of Middleham either thrown up during the anarchy of Stephen's reign or intended as an advanced warning post while Middleham was was under construction and the threat of Scottish raids were still high. The two main danger periods were 1138 and 1174 when the Scots raided into Yorkshire and burnt some castles. (Butler 1994)

If Round Hill behind the 'Foresters' Arms' in Carlton is a Norman motte (as shown on the Ordnance Survey 1: 25 000 map) it would be an outlier intended to support the fortification on William's Hill, providing a further means of controlling the track to the head of Coverdale and over the watershed to Wharfedale. However Round Hill seems small for a motte, and its top is not flat but rounded. It seems more likely to be a prehistoric burial mound, but there has not been any archaeological excavation to determine its origins. (Joynes 2006)

Gatehouse Comments

Joynes seems incorrect in suggesting the mound is round topped, although it does have 800+ years of erosion. The 1086 Domesday lord was the same pre-Conquest lord Bernwulf (aka Bjornulfr - a Danish name) although he seems to have been replaced shortly after 1086 when the manor was taken into direct control by the lord of Middleham. This may well suggest the motte, whilst serving as a local manorial centre, was part of a larger defensive scheme.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSE067846
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  • Salter, Mike, 2001, The Castles and Tower Houses of Yorkshire (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 27
  • Ingham, Bernard, 2001, Bernard Ingham's Yorkshire Castles (Dalesman) p. 18
  • Jackson, M.J., 2001, Castles of North Yorkshire (Carlisle)
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 531 (possible)
  • Pevsner, N., 1966, Buildings of England: Yorkshire: North Riding (London) p. 102
  • Whellan. T., 1859, History and topography of the city of York and the North Riding of Yorkshire Vol. 2 p. 420n 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))
  • I'Anson, W.M., 1913, 'The castles of the North Riding' Yorkshire Archaeological Journal Vol. 22 p. 334


  • Joynes, Nora Elaine, 2006, The history of Carlton in Coverdale, 1086-1910 (PhD thesis, University of Leeds) 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. 584 online copy