Middleton St George Tower Hill

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Motte)

There are earthwork remains

NameMiddleton St George Tower Hill
Alternative Names
Historic CountryDurham
Modern AuthorityDarlington
1974 AuthorityCounty Durham
Civil ParishMiddleton St George

Tower Hill motte is very well preserved and is a good example of a motte castle. Such monuments are not common in County Durham. The monument includes a Norman motte situated in a prominent position overlooking the River Tees. The motte, circular in plan and flat topped, is constructed upon a partly natural mound. It is 5.5m high and 22m in diameter across the top and 50m across the base. The surrounding ditch, which has been infilled, lies beneath the path which has been constructed around the perimeter of the motte. The motte was constructed in this strategic position in order to dominate and control the passage of traffic across the river. (Scheduling Report)

Tower Hill was once the site of a Norman motte, of 11th or 12th century date. It measures 22m in diameter across the top. It may once have been surrounded by a ditch, but there are now no traces of one. The motte may have been built to guard the crossing point of the River Tees at Pountney's Bridge. (Keys to the Past)

Gatehouse Comments

Pountney's Bridge (Pons Tees) was the crossing point of the River Tees 300m south of Tower Hill. This was the site of the Roman crossing point and the bridge, which was of stone and had an associated chapel, may have originated with the Romans. The bridge was in use throughout the middle ages but was gradually superseded by Croft Bridge 8km west. The date of its destruction is not known but probably gone by Leland's time (1530's) as he does not mention it. This was a major crossing point at the time the motte at Middleton was constructed and it seems certain the castle did have a role to play in guarding this crossing point. Toward the end of the time the bridge was in use, after the castle had gone out of use, the road was notorious for highwaymen.

- 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 ReferenceNZ346123
Latitude54.5050201416016
Longitude-1.46718001365662
Eastings434600
Northings512320
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink

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Books

  • Salter, Mike, 2002, The Castles and Tower Houses of County Durham (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 47
  • Jackson, M.J., 1996, Castles of Durham and Cleveland (Carlisle) p. 44
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 33 (slight)
  • Corfe, Tom (ed), 1992, 'The Visible Middle Ages' in An Historical Atlas of County Durham p. 28-9
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 136
  • Hugill, Robert, 1979, The Castles and Towers of the County of Durham (Newcastle; Frank Graham) p. 94
  • Gould, Chalkley, 1905, 'Ancient Earthworks' in Page, Wm (ed), VCH Durham Vol. 1 (London) p. 355 online copy
  • Mackenzie, E. and Ross, M., 1834, An Historical, Topographical and Descriptive View of the County Palatine of Durham Vol. 2 p. 76-7 (tenurial history only), 80-1 (Pounteys bridge) online copy

Journals

  • Butler, Lawrence, 1994, 'The Origins of the Honour of Richmond and its Castles' Ch√Ęteau Gaillard Vol. 16 p. 69-80 (Reprinted in Liddiard, Robert, (ed), 2003, Anglo-Norman Castles p. 91-103 (Woodbridge: Boydell Press))
  • 1980, Transactions of the Architectural and Archaeological Society of Durham and Northumberland Vol. 5 p. 9

Other

  • 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