Barwick in Elmet, Hall Tower Hill

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Motte)

There are earthwork remains

NameBarwick in Elmet, Hall Tower Hill
Alternative NamesBerewica
Historic CountryYorkshire
Modern AuthorityLeeds
1974 AuthorityWest Yorkshire
Civil ParishBarwick In Elmet And Scholes

Barwick in Elmet lies between the rivers Wharfe and Aire, north of the Aire's confluence with the River Calder. The monument comprises two areas which include the remains of a large Iron Age univallate hillfort and a twelfth century motte and bailey castle. The Iron Age hillfort enclosed the tops of two adjacent hills, Wendel Hill and Hall Tower Hill. The motte and bailey castle, though lying inside the hillfort, occupied Hall Tower Hill only. The substantial remains of the bank and ditch that enclosed the hillfort survive in a well-preserved state round Wendel Hill, where it measures up to 4.5m from base to summit, and also to the south-west of the motte on Hall Tower Hill, though here it was modified in the twelfth century to form part of the medieval defences. In addition, the south circuit of this bank and ditch, where it circled round the south side of Hall Tower Hill and proceeded north-east to join the circuit round Wendel Hill, was found when houses were built next to the motte in the 1960s. The remains of a massive inturned entrance are visible in the northern circuit, on the north-west side of Wendel Hill, and much of the interior of the hillfort is preserved in the open areas behind the houses and premises along The Boyle. Here the remains of a variety of associated features will survive below ground and will include such features as the post-holes and trenches of buildings, storage pits and hearths, and a variety of small finds indicative of the occupations of people living within the hillfort. Coins dating to the second century BC and first century AD have already been recovered. The motte and bailey castle was built at the southern end of the hillfort and comprised the motte, which stands c.15m high and is surrounded by a deep ditch c.15m wide, and the bailey which extended to the north and east

The east side of the bailey, which originally extended beyond the limits of the earlier hillfort, has largely been built over by urban development within Barwick in Elmet, but sufficient remains to contain ample buried evidence of the domestic and garrison buildings that formerly occupied it. When the motte was built it would have been crowned by a timber tower and palisade, but there is as yet no evidence that this was ever replaced in stone. The castle was built by the de Lacy family, who held the Honour of Pontefract throughout most of the Middle Ages, and was the administrative centre of the northern part of the Honour; a role it took over from the ringwork castle at Kippax. The de Lacys also held the motte and bailey castle at Almondbury which, coincidentally, was also built inside a hillfort. (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 ReferenceSE398376
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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 Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved

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  • Turner, Maurice, 2004, Yorkshire Castles: Exploring Historic Yorkshire (Otley: Westbury Publishing) p. 92, 95, 110, 129, 176, 179, 235
  • Salter, Mike, 2001, The Castles and Tower Houses of Yorkshire (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 19
  • Ingham, Bernard, 2001, Bernard Ingham's Yorkshire Castles (Dalesman) p. 16-17
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 310 (slight)
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 513
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 184
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker)
  • Illingworth, J.L., 1938 (republished 1970), Yorkshire's Ruined Castles (Wakefield) p. 124-5
  • Armitage and Montgomerie, 1912, in Page, Wm (ed), VCH Yorkshire Vol. 2 p. 26-7
  • Colman, F.S., 1908, A History of the Parish of Barwick-in-Elmet, in the county of York (Thoresby Society 17) p. 19-24
  • Whitaker, T.D., 1816, Loidis and Elmete (Leeds) p. 152-3


  • Speight, Sarah, 2008, 'Castles as Past Culture: Living with Castles in the Post-Medieval World' Cha^teau Gaillard Vol. 23 p. 385-94 (slight)
  • 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
  • Clark, G.T., 1889, 'Contribution towards a complete list of moated mounds or burhs' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 46 p. 197-217 esp. 214 online copy
  • Clark, G.T., 1874, The Builder Vol. 32 p. 586

Primary Sources

  • Farrer, W. (ed), 1916, Early Yorkshire Charters Vol. 3 p. 146 (Notitia of a charter of Stephen, confirming to Henry de Lascy in fee the castle of Barwick. 1142-1154) 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
  • WYAS, 1991, Archaeological Evalutation Barwick in Elmet (WYAS Report 7)