Penwortham Castle Hill

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Motte)

There are earthwork remains

NamePenwortham Castle Hill
Alternative NamesPeneworth; Peneverdant
Historic CountryLancashire
Modern AuthorityLancashire
1974 AuthorityLancashire
Civil ParishPenwortham

Medieval motte and probable bailey surviving as earthworks. The castle was in existence by 1086 and fell into ruins after 1232. The mound is conical in form, slightly oval in plan with a diameter of 120ft at its longest base, and 25ft across the summit. There was no ditch between the mound and the bailey. A careful excavation in 1856 revealed a boulder pavement at a depth of 11ft below the summit. Finds overlying the pavement included a broken paddle, net sinkers, a prickspur, a spindle whorl, wooden pegs, iron nails and animal bones. These remains have been interpreted as the remains of a Saxon Hall, but may represent an earlier phase of the Motte's keep. The Motte mound may have been used as a moot in Norman times. (PastScape)

Stands at the end of a high promontory 70 yds NNW of Penwortham Church within the area of the extended graveyard. The mount is conical in form, slightly oval in plan with a diameter of 120 ft at its longest base, and 25 ft across the summit. No ditch now divides the mount from the plateau which evidently formed the bailey (but one is shown in illustration). It has been suggested that there was a second stockaded bailey on the lower plateau (? on the north side). Apart from general wear of the slopes, the east side of the mount has been eroded by the river.

A fairly careful excavation in 1856 revealed at a depth of 11 ft below the summit of the mount, the boulder pavement, timbers and wattling of what seems to have been a circular palisaded dwelling divided into several chambers, and erected on a low mount. A broken central oak post 5 ft high was still standing. Finds from a 2 ft 6 ins stratum of decayed vegetable matter overlying the pavement included a broken paddle, two lead net sinkers, a prickspur, spindle whorl, iron nails, wooden pegs and animal bones. A second pavement was laid 5 ft above this dwelling before the mound was subsequently raised at least a further 7 ft

The problem yet to be solved is whether the first mound with the remains upon it was the keep of the important little castle known to have been erected shortly prior to 1086. (PastScape ref. VCH)

Limited excavation at Castle Hill motte has revealed a lengthy period of occupation during which three construction phases were noted from the early medieval period until the mid 13th Century. The Norman motte was of strategic importance allowing control of movement along the Ribble valley and across an important ancient ford.

The monument at Penwortham consists of a medieval motte castle strategically situated on a natural mound overlooking an ancient ford across the River Ribble. The motte lies in St Mary's churchyard NE of the church and includes a tree and scrub covered conical earthen mound having diameters of c.36.5m at the base and 7.6m across the summit. This part of the graveyard is now disused. Traces of a shallow ditch - now packed with graves - c.2.5m wide x 0.5m deep separating the motte from a bailey on the SW side survive, but the bailey is now indistinct and its site has been considerably disturbed by construction of the church and burials in the churchyard. This bailey area is not, therefore, included in the scheduling. 19th century excavations found three phases of occupation at Castle Hill with the earliest remains considered to be of early medieval origin. Penwortham Castle was named in the Domesday Survey as existing in 1086 but appears to have been allowed to fall into ruins after 1232. (Scheduling Report)

Rex.E. tenutt PENEVERDANT. ... Modo.e ibi castellum (Domesday Book) King Edward held Peneuerdant. There (are) 2 carucates of land and they used to render 10 pence. Now there is a castle there, ... (VCH 1906)

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 ReferenceSD524290
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Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All rights reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All rights reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World 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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  • 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. 112
  • Salter, Mike, 2001, The Castles and Tower Houses of Lancashire and Cheshire (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 36
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 136 (slight)
  • Higham, R. and Barker, P., 1992, Timber Castles (Batsford)
  • Crosby, A., 1988, Penwortham in the past (Preston: Carnegie Press) espec p. 27-33
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  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 274
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  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 276
  • Pevsner, Nikolaus, 1969, Buildings of England: Lancashire, The rural north (Harmondsworth) p. 189
  • Armitage, Ella, 1912, The Early Norman Castles of the British Isles (London: John Murray) p. 183-5 online copy
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
  • Gardner, W., 1908, 'Ancient Earthworks:- Lancashire South of the Sands' in Farrer, William and Brownbill, J. (eds), VCH Lancashire Vol. 2 p. 533-7 (plan) online copy
  • Farrer, Wm, 1906, 'The Barony of Penwortham' in Farrer, Wm, and Brownbill, J. (eds), VCH Lancashire Vol. 1 p. 335-6 online copy
  • Mackenzie, J.D., 1896, Castles of England; their story and structure (New York: Macmillan) Vol. 2 p. 200 online copy
  • Hardwick, C., 1857, History of the borough of Preston (Preston) p. 103-11



  • Harfield, C.G., 1991, 'A Hand-list of Castles Recorded in the Domesday Book' English Historical Review Vol. 106 p. 371-392 view online copy (subscription required)
  • 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
  • Thompson, M.W., 1986, 'Associated monasteries and castles in the Middle Ages: a tentative list' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 143 p. 315
  • Armitage, E., 1904 April, 'The Early Norman Castles of England' English Historical Review Vol. 19 p. 209-245, 417-455 esp. 243-5 online copy
  • Fishwick, H., 1901, The Old Castles of Lancashire.' Transactions of the Lancashire and Cheshire Antiquarian Society Vol. 19 p. 75-6 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. 207 online copy
  • Thornber, W., 1856-7, 'The castle hill of Penwortham' Transactions of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire Vol. 9 p. 61-76 online copy

Primary Sources

  • 1086, Domesday Book i., 270 online copy (See also Farrer, W., 1906, 'Text of the Lancashire Domesday' in Farrer, William and Brownbill, J. (eds), VCH Lancashire Vol. 1 p. 287 [online copy >])


  • Lancashire County Council and Egerton Lea Consultancy, 2006, Lancashire Historic Town Survey Programme: Preston with Walton-le-Dale and Penwortham; Historic Town Assessment Report (Lancashire County Council) 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