Mexborough Castle Hill

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

There are earthwork remains

NameMexborough Castle Hill
Alternative NamesMexbrough
Historic CountryYorkshire
Modern AuthorityDoncaster
1974 AuthoritySouth Yorkshire
Civil ParishMexborough

a circular bailey, c.25m in diameter, with a peripheral motte, c.8m high and c.5m across at the top. The bailey is surrounded by substantial banks rising c.2m above the present inner ground level and c.5m above the outer ditch. Entrance to the bailey is via a defensive approach on the north west side that survives as an earthwork between the bailey rampart and the motte. A similar but smaller feature can be seen on the south side. Situated on the north bank of the River Don, the site commands the ancient ford at Strafforth Sands. In the 11th century it was a manor of Roger de Busli, lord of Tickhill. Writing in the 17th century, Dodsworth mentions "Mexborough, where hath once been a castle", suggesting the stone visible in the top of the motte is part of the foundations of a stone tower. (Scheduling Report)

Medieval motte and bailey castle, damaged by landscape gardening. The truncated motte is 52 feet high above the ditch and the bailey is surrounded by a bank 6 feet in height. The ditch surrounding the motte and bailey is 50 feet wide. Although mutilated most of these features were present during field investigation in 1965 and are visible as earthworks on air photographs. (PastScape)

Gatehouse Comments

The modern town of Mexborough gives little hint of the medieval layout. The parish church, now well east from the modern town centre was actual on the west of the medieval village with the castle some distance from the village. A footbridge across the river Don marks the approximate site of a ford/ferry crossing but another ford was sited more directly beneath the castle. The castle is not on the highest land (The adjacent primary school is on higher land) but on the false crest of river escarpment making the site visible from the old road and the River Don coming from Conisborough (The old road does seem to have followed the line of the modern A6023, along the crest top, and not run closer to the river below the castle as previously stated in this Gatehouse record). However, the castle is not well visible nor has particularly good views of the land to the north or the river to the west and its view of and from the parish church and village centre is not impressive, being partly shielded. One of these fords may have been the ford of Strafforth Sands from which the large Wapentake of Strafford took its name, although that may also have been the ford below Conisborough (or indeed the ford may have moved over time according to the changes in the course and flow of the Don). The building of a large canal and the general reduction in river flows because of water extraction mean the modern river Don, whilst still sizeable, is but a shadow of the medieval river which was certainly navigable to Mexborough and probably (with some haulage over shallows) all the way to Sheffield. It has been suggested it may even have been tidal as far as Mexborough

- 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 ReferenceSK484999
Latitude53.493579864502
Longitude-1.27086997032166
Eastings448400
Northings399900
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved

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Books

  • Turner, Maurice, 2004, Yorkshire Castles: Exploring Historic Yorkshire (Otley: Westbury Publishing) p. 242
  • Hey, David, 2003, Medieval South Yorkshire (Landmark Publishing) p. 28, 73
  • Salter, Mike, 2001, The Castles and Tower Houses of Yorkshire (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 60
  • Ingham, Bernard, 2001, Bernard Ingham's Yorkshire Castles (Dalesman) p. 20
  • 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. 521
  • Magilton, J.R., 1977, The Doncaster District: An Archaeological Survey (Doncaster) p. 57-8
  • Illingworth, J.L., 1938 (republished 1970), Yorkshire's Ruined Castles (Wakefield)
  • Armitage and Montgomerie, 1912, in Page, Wm (ed), VCH Yorkshire Vol. 2 p. 31, 33
  • Allcroft, A. Hadrian, 1908, Earthwork of England (London) p. 406, 408 online copy
  • Armitage, Ella S., 1905, A key to English antiquites with special reference to the Sheffield and Rotherham district (London: J.M. Dent and Co) p. 56 online copy
  • Hunter, J., 1828, South Yorkshire. The History and Topography of the Deanery of Doncaster in the Diocese and County of York Vol. 1 p. iv, 390-4

Antiquarian

  • Roger Dodsworth (d. 1654) 162 vols of manuscripts held in the Bodleian Library Oxford

Journals

  • Birch, J., 1981, 'The castles and fortified houses of South Yorkshire' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 137 p. 374-6
  • Addy, S.O., 1914-18, 'Some Defensive Earthworks in the neighbourhood of Sheffield' Transactions of the Hunter Archaeological Society Vol. 1 p. 359-61 and plate
  • Chalkley Gould, I., 1904, 'Some early defensive earthworks of the Sheffield district' Journal of the British Archaeological Association Vol. 10 p. 29-42 esp. 38-9 online copy
  • Clark, G.T., 1889, 'Contribution towards a complete list of moated mounds or burhs' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 46 p. 197-217 esp. 215 online copy
  • Clark, G.T., 1874, The Builder Vol. 32 p. 585-7

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