Bishopton Castle Hill

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Motte)

There are earthwork remains

NameBishopton Castle Hill
Alternative NamesCastle Holl; Biscoptun
Historic CountryDurham
Modern AuthorityDarlington
1974 AuthorityCounty Durham
Civil ParishBishopton

The motte and bailey castle at Bishopton survives in an exceptional state of preservation. Additionally, it is a complex monument which retains valuable information about its origin and development. It will greatly add to our knowledge and understanding of the Norman Conquest of northern Britain. The monument includes an exceptionally well preserved Norman motte and bailey castle situated on low lying land beside the Bishopton Beck. The motte is conical in shape with a near circular top; it stands to a height of 11.5m and measures 55m across at the base and is surrounded by a moat 10 to 15m wide and 1.4 to 3.5m deep. Immediately to the north west of the motte there is a bailey which measures 80m north east to south west by 40m north west to south east. Its north west side is bounded by a ditch 16m across and 2.7m deep, its north east side by a bank 0.4m wide and 0.4m high and its south west side is bounded by a trivallate earthwork 25m across. The western boundary of the site consists of a double ditch system which runs parallel with the Bishopton Beck. Within the eastern part of the bailey there are the remains of a rectangular building measuring 28m by 9.5m, and the remains of a second building abutting the northern wall of the bailey. The motte and the bailey is surrounded on the east by a substantial moat, crossed by two raised causeways 1.3m high; the moat is up to 70m wide and is 1.5m deep and was fed with water, by a series of artificial channels, from the Bishopton Beck. Little is known of the history of the monument but a reference in AD 1143 referring to the fortification of a castle by Roger Conyers may refer to Bishopton. It is not known if there was a previous castle on the site. (Scheduling Report)

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 ReferenceNZ366208
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Copyright Mick Garratt and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.

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  • Page, Wm (ed), 1928, VCH Durham Vol. 3 p. 213 online transcription
  • Page, Wm (ed), 1907, VCH Durham Vol. 2 p. 141-2 online copy
  • Gould, Chalkley, 1905, 'Ancient Earthworks' in Page, Wm (ed), VCH Durham Vol. 1 (London) p. 353-4 online copy
  • Boyle, J.R., 1892, Comprehensive Guide to the County of Durham: its Castles, Churches, and Manor-Houses (London) p. 162-3
  • Surtees, R., 1816 (1972 Reprint), The History and Antiquities of the County Palatine of Durham (London) Vol. 3 p. 67 online transcription
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  • 1883-4, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle-upon-Tyne (ser2) Vol. 1 p. 75-6 (where taken for a barrow)

Primary Sources

  • Arnold, T. (ed), 1882-5, Symeonis Monachi Opera Omnia (London: Rolls Series 75) Vol. 1 p. 150, Vol. 2 p. 314


  • 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