Arkholme with Cawood Chapel Hill

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Ringwork)

There are earthwork remains

NameArkholme with Cawood Chapel Hill
Alternative Names
Historic CountryLancashire
Modern AuthorityLancashire
1974 AuthorityLancashire
Civil ParishArkholme with Cawood

The motte at Arkholme is of particular importance as being one of the group of early post-conquest (late 11th century) mottes established along the Lune valley. These sites were all of strategic importance allowing control of movement along the river valley. More importantly, however, was their role in imposing and demonstrating the new post-conquest feudal order on the area. Of the wider Lune valley group this is one of the best preserved examples. A lengthy period of occupation of the site has been indicated by excavation which revealed evidence of two periods of construction, and use of the motte.

The monument at Arkholme comprises a truncated cone, the remnants of a medieval motte castle, situated on a commanding position dominating a slight bend in the River Lune overlooking an old river crossing. The motte lies in Arkholme churchyard immediately NE of the church, the vestry of which overlies the monument slightly on its SW. The bailey, which was originally attached to the motte, is now very indistinct as it has been considerably disturbed by burials and activities both within and beyond the churchyard. Because of the damaged state of this bailey it is not included in this Scheduling. The churchyard wall runs around the motte on the NW, N and E sides and acts as a retaining wall. (Scheduling Report)

Medieval motte surviving as an earthwork, with traces of probable former bailey. Chapel hill is a conical motte, 110ft in diameter at the base, 45ft across the summit and circa 20ft high situated in Arkholme churchyard. There was no distinct traces of ditch around the mound although the sunken footpath to the north west probably represented part of its former course. A raised earthen platform covering about half an acre stood adjacent to the motte and may have acted as a bailey. a small excavation on the summit of the Motte in 1904 revealed two distinct phases, one below the turf and another 9ft lower

The lower deposit may represent a possible ringwork phase. Further excavations in 1973-4 confirmed the presence of two phases and suggested the upper phase was incomplete. Medieval pottery and a Neolithic or Bronze Age scraper were also found. (PastScape)

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 ReferenceSD589718
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Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Matthew Emmott. All rights reserved
Photograph by Matthew Emmott. All rights reserved
Photograph by Matthew Emmott. All rights reserved

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  • Grimsditch, Brian, Nevell, Michael and Nevell, Richard, 2012, Buckton Castle and the Castles of the North West England (University of Salford Archaeological Monograph 2) p. 104-5
  • Salter, Mike, 2001, The Castles and Tower Houses of Lancashire and Cheshire (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 22
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 244
  • Gibson, Leslie Irving, 1977, Lancashire Castles and Towers (Dalesman Books)
  • Gardner, W., 1908, 'Ancient Earthworks:- Lancashire South of the Sands' in Farrer, William and Brownbill, J. (eds), VCH Lancashire Vol. 2 p. 521-3 (plan) online copy


  • Higham, Mary, 1991, 'The Mottes of North Lancashire, Lonsdale and South Cumbria' Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Vol. 91 p. 79-90 (reprinted in Crosby, A.G. (ed), 2007, Of names and places: selected writings of Mary Higham (Nottingham: English Place-Name Society and the Society for Name Studies) p. 81-91) online copy
  • Harrison, P.A., 1977, 'Arkholme 1976' Contrebis Vol. 5 p. 40 online copy
  • White, A.J., 1975, 'Arkholme Excavations' Contrebis Vol. 3 No. 1 p. 25-9 online copy
  • Moorhouse, S., 1971, 'Excavations At Burton-In-Lonsdale: A Reconsideration' Yorkshire Archaeological Journal Vol. 43 p. 85, 89-90, 98
  • White, H.M., 1905, Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Vol. 5 p. 309 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. 206 online copy

Guide Books

  • White, A.J., 1998, Norman Castles of Lunedale A History Trail (Lancaster City Museums) (Leaflet)


  • 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