Sowerby Pudding Pie Hill

Has been described as a Questionable Timber Castle (Motte)

There are earthwork remains

NameSowerby Pudding Pie Hill
Alternative Names
Historic CountryYorkshire
Modern AuthorityNorth Yorkshire
1974 AuthorityNorth Yorkshire
Civil ParishSowerby

bowl barrow which is situated on the east bank of the Cod Beck river 650m south-east of St Oswald's Church and lies on the edge of an area of high ground adjacent to the floodplain of the river. The mound is 40m in diameter and the summit is about 3m above the high-ground to the east and rises to 6m above the floodplain. A slight irregular hollow at the top of the mound is thought to be the result of a partial excavation of the barrow by Lady Russell in 1855. Three male skeletons and some cremated bones were found along with a number of Anglian weapons; these burials represent a re-use of the mound for burials in the Dark Ages and it is thought that Prehistoric burials, interred when the mound was built, were not disturbed by the excavators. The barrow is surrounded by a ditch which cuts into the hillside to the south-east of the mound and is between 5m and 10m wide by up to 1.5m deep, while on the north-west side the ditch lies on the floodplain and is now 0.5m deep, having become silted-up over the years. The low-lying parts of the ditch are partially waterlogged. There is a slight 1m wide outer bank on the edge of the ditch on the floodplain. The ditch and outer bank have been incorporated into later field boundaries. (Scheduling Report)

Situation: The site is raised upon, and partially scarped from the edge of an area of high ground immediately east of Cod Beck, c. 300m east of the village of Sowerby; the feature sites at the heart of an area of prehistoric(?) field boundaries identified from aerial photography on the slopes either side of Cod Beck. Thirsk Castle lies c. 1.5km to the north - Pudding Pie Hill is possibly an associated defensive work.

Preservation: The earthwork is well preserved under permanent pasture.

Description: Pudding Pie Hill is a circular mound with a base diameter of c. 52m, artificially raised c. 3m above the ground to the east and standing c. 6m above the flood-plain of Cod Beck

The summit of the feature is slightly hollowed, due to excavation. It is surrounded by a ditch between c. 5-10m wide, and c. 1.5m deep to the east, although less than c. 0.5m deep to the west, where there are vestiges of an external counterscarp bank. Other than a motte, the site has been interpreted (and scheduled) as a bowl barrow.

Excavation: Small-scale excavation on the summit of the mound by Lady Russell under the auspices of the Yorkshire Antiquarian Club in 1855 revealed three male inhumations (one with Anglian weaponry), a quantity of cremated bone, a number of early medieval weapons, and a quantity of Roman coins and pottery, whilst animal bones were recovered from another - unspecified - part of the mound. (Creighton 1998)

Gatehouse Comments

The North Yorkshire SMR (Now the NYCC HER) record writes 'Pacitto suggests that although scheduled as a round barrow this site may represent a small motte.' unfortunately it does not identify 'Pacitto' in the online record Gatehouse suspects Pacitto was an OS archaeologist. The location, near a river crossing but on the opposite side of the river from Sowerby is not conclusive, but the location of so many footpaths centering on the hill is suggestive. Flooding, agriculture and modern road workings will have effected any possible associated earthworks, such as a bailey. The name Pudding Pie hill may suggest the original form of the hill as domed and fairly steep sided rather more like a motte than a barrow. However, the site must remain doubtful as a medieval fortification.

- 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 ReferenceSE437810
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  • Whellan, 1859, History and Topography of North Riding of Yorkshire Vol. 2 p. 706


  • Creighton, O.H., 1998, Castles and Landscapes: An Archaeological Survey of Yorkshire and the East Midlands (PhD Thesis University of Leicester) p. 626 online copy
  • English Heritage Scheduling Amendment 7/1/93