Bardsey Castle Hill

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

There are earthwork remains

NameBardsey Castle Hill
Alternative Names
Historic CountryYorkshire
Modern AuthorityLeeds
1974 AuthorityWest Yorkshire
Civil ParishBardsey Cum Rigton

Castle Hill is situated on a hill overlooking the village of Bardsey cum Rigton. The monument includes the remains of the motte and part of the surrounding bailey. The motte is of an unusual form, consisting of two roughly rectangular platforms on an east-west alignment joined by a central causeway. Ditches flank the causeway which is c.8m wide. The motte itself measures c.100m long by c.30m wide and varies between 1m and 2m high. Partial excavations carried out in the late nineteenth century and in 1930 revealed the foundations of a square stone keep and pottery dating to the late twelfth or early thirteenth century. The motte is situated at the centre of a flat oval bailey whose scarped edge, in the medieval period, would have been crowned by a wall or, more likely, a timber palisade. Beyond the scarp lay a 20m wide berm surrounded by an outer ditch, part of which survives on the east side of the site. Beyond this would have lain an outer bailey but this has now largely been built over. Platforms on the east side of the site indicate the presence of ancillary buildings within the bailey. These are overlain by ridge and furrow, the remains of medieval ploughing, showing that the site was abandoned early in its history. The pottery recovered from the site, which dates only from c.1175 to c.1200, also indicates that the period of occupation was short. Almost certainly, the castle was built by Adam de Bruce, an important North Yorkshire baron, who was granted the manor of Bardsey shortly after 1175 as part-compensation for the loss of his estates around Danby. The de Bruce family petitioned continually for the return of their northern lands and were finally successful in 1201. The manor of Bardsey then reverted to the Crown and was subsequently granted to the monks of Kirkstall Abbey. The castle would have been abandoned at about this time, having been in use for only a quarter of a century. (Scheduling Report)

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 ReferenceSE366433
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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

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  • Constable, Chris, 2007, 'Earthwork castles in West Yorkshire Part Two' Archaeology and Archives in West Yorkshire Vol. 24 p. 5-6 online copy
  • Constable, Chris, 2006, 'Earthwork castles in West Yorkshire' Archaeology and Archives in West Yorkshire Vol. 23 p. 5-6 online copy
  • Proceedings of the Thoresby Society 49 fig. 39.21a
  • Clark, G.T., 1879-80, 'Observations on some moated mounds in Yorkshire' Yorkshire Archaeological Journal Vol. 6 p. 109-112 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