Great Driffield Moat Hill

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

There are earthwork remains

NameGreat Driffield Moat Hill
Alternative NamesMoot Hill
Historic CountryYorkshire
Modern AuthorityEast Riding of Yorkshire
1974 AuthorityHumberside
Civil ParishDriffield

Motte and bailey castle dating to the early medieval period at Moot Hill, with the remains of an earlier moated manor and evidence for a 4th century AD Roman period occupation underlying it. Moot Hill was the site of an important royal manor from the 11th century, originating as part of the royal demesne in 1086, with a complicated history of ownership, passing between the Crown and its gift recipients, through to the 15th century. Buildings relating to this period of occupation are thought to have stood within the earthworks of the castle, whose bailey is referred to in a document of 1208 AD. Excavations at Moot Hill undertaken in 1975 demonstrated that the surviving mound was the motte of a Norman castle lying immediately to the east of the postulated site of the eighth century Northumbrian royal palace, references to which, in connection with Driffield, are found in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for the year 705 AD. The Chronicle indicates that King Aldfrith, who ruled Northumbria after the death of his brother, Ecgfrith in 685 AD, possessed a palace at Driffield. The excavations of 1975 also uncovered evidence of a Roman occupation dating to the fourth century AD beneath the motte. The surviving remains are now surrounded on every side by modern buildings, and little of the bailey now survives. The surviving remains include the motte mound which is up to 4.5m in height and 40m in diameter, partly surrounded by the remains of a ditch 15m wide and 1.5m deep. The existence of buried remains of an extensive building was originally discovered during earlier works carried out in the 19th century. These remains included wall fragments and large stone steps. It was recorded in the Driffield Observer for June, 1893 that 'an elongated rectangle for the castle' was found and that hand-made files and a chalk wall foundation surrounded by a moat up to 3m deep at its west side were revealed by the excavation of a drain

J R Mortimer, the 19th century antiquarian mistakenly identified the mound as a Bronze Age round barrow. The mound had been originally much larger, both in diameter and height, before part of it was removed during gravel quarrying operations in 1856-8. During these operations, Mortimer noted fragments of medieval swords, including what is described as an Anglo-Saxon sword, and spears, a bronze celt and English silver coins. It was also believed by Mortimer to have been at one time an Anglo-Saxon Moot Mound, although there is no direct evidence for this other than its name. (Scheduling Report)

Gatehouse Comments

Norman Motte on the site with evidence of C4 occupation might, therefore, have utilised an already existing mound and enlarged it. Excavations carried out in 1975 revealed a Norman castle with several phases of bridge building across the motte ditch. There might be evidence for a building date of the castle of 1071, about the time of Mortcar's rebellion. The castle was then abandoned for some time then re-fortified in C13. Earlier excavations have revealed Saxon relics also indicating that the site was of some importance for many centuries. The mound had been originally much larger, both in diameter and height, before part of it was removed during gravel quarrying operations in 1856-8. Site of a royal residence of some importance in early C13; nearly £600 spent on works here 1210-12.

- 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 ReferenceTA023582
Latitude54.010311126709
Longitude-0.439509987831116
Eastings502360
Northings458270
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
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

Most of the sites or buildings recorded in this web site are NOT open to the public and permission to visit a site must always be sought from the landowner or tenant.

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Books

  • Turner, Maurice, 2004, Yorkshire Castles: Exploring Historic Yorkshire (Otley: Westbury Publishing) p. 75, 91, 214, 238-9
  • Salter, Mike, 2001, The Castles and Tower Houses of Yorkshire (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 37
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 285 (slight)
  • Higham, R. and Barker, P., 1992, Timber Castles (Batsford) p. 355
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 517
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 222
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 173
  • Colvin, H.M., Brown, R.Allen and Taylor, A.J., 1963, The history of the King's Works Vol. 2: the Middle Ages (London: HMSO) p. 923-4
  • Armitage and Montgomerie, 1912, in Page, Wm (ed), VCH Yorkshire Vol. 2 p. 45

Journals

  • Eddy, M.R., 1983, 'A Roman settlement and early medieval motte at Moot Hill, Great Driffield, North Humberside' East Riding Archaeologist Vol. 7 p. 40–51
  • Webster, L.E. and Cherry, J., 1976, 'Medieval Britain in 1975' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 20 p. 184 download copy

Primary Sources

  • Brown, W. (ed.), 1894, Pedes finium. Ebor. regnante Johanne (Surtees Society 94) p. 120 no. 308 online copy

Other

  • English Heritage, 2012, Heritage at Risk Register 2012 Yorkshire and the Humber (London: English Heritage) p. 25 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2011, Heritage at Risk Register 2011 Yorkshire and the Humber (London: English Heritage) p. 24 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2010, Heritage at Risk Register 2010 Yorkshire and the Humber (London: English Heritage) p. 22 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2009, Heritage at Risk Register 2009 Yorkshire and the Humber (London: English Heritage) p. 32 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