Whittington Motte

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Motte)

There are cropmark/slight earthwork remains

NameWhittington Motte
Alternative Names
Historic CountryLancashire
Modern AuthorityLancashire
1974 AuthorityLancashire
Civil ParishWhittington

The motte and bailey castle at Whittington is of particular importance for being one of a group of such monuments established along the Lune valley. These sites were all of strategic importance, allowing control of movement along the river valley. More importantly, however, was the role these monuments played in imposing and demonstrating the new post-Conquest order on the area. Construction of the church within the bailey, coupled with the digging of numerous graves on the site has somewhat mutilated the earthworks. However, the site is still distinctly recognisable as a motte and bailey and retains considerable information as to its original form.

The monument comprises a motte and bailey castle situated on a natural hillock on the lower slopes of a steep hillside overlooking the floodplain of the River Lune. It commands extensive views both down and across the valley to the S and E. The site consists of a low, oval-shaped motte c.52m dia at the base x c.3.6m high standing some 11m above the low meadows to the SE. To the E and SE of the motte is a crescent-shaped bailey that slopes gently downwards from W-E and stands a max. 6m above the meadows. The site is now occupied by Whittington Church and churchyard. The church itself has been constructed within the bailey while a sundial is located upon the summit of the motte. There are burials both on the motte and within the bailey, particularly to the N of the church. (Scheduling Report)

The mutilated remains of a motte and bailey castle, originally covering about an acre, is now occupied by Whittington church (At SD 59967627 See also SD 57 NE 3) and churchyard.

The church is built within the former crescentic-shaped bailey, but no remains of its surrounding ramparts or ditches are now visible

The interior is sloped downwards from east to west and elevated about 20 ft above the low ground to the south and east.

The low and oval-shaped motte, to the west of the bailey, is about 170 ft in diameter at base and circa 12 ft high where it abuts the bailey. On the south side it stands about 37 ft high above the low meadows. Part of the northwest side has been destroyed for building purposes and a sundial now stands on the top (See SD 57 NE 4). No remains of a ditch are visible, unless the sunken road to the north represents its former course along that side.

The castle was probably abandoned at an early date like many of the other motte and baileys in the Lune Valley. There are no indications that masonry replaced the original wooden palisades of the castle (VCH 1908).

The remains of the motte and bailey castle, centred at SD 59937627, are correctly described but the earthworks have become so integrated into the church enclosure and graveyard as to have completely lost their original form (F1 FRH 24-AUG-67). (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 ReferenceSD599762
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Photograph by Matthew Emmott. All rights reserved
Photograph by Matthew Emmott. All rights reserved
Photograph by Matthew Emmott. 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. 114
  • Salter, Mike, 2001, The Castles and Tower Houses of Lancashire and Cheshire (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 40
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 248
  • Gardner, W., 1908, 'Ancient Earthworks:- Lancashire South of the Sands' in Farrer, William and Brownbill, J. (eds), VCH Lancashire Vol. 2 p. 545-6 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