Castle Carlton, South Reston

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Motte)

There are earthwork remains

NameCastle Carlton, South Reston
Alternative NamesKarleton'
Historic CountryLincolnshire
Modern AuthorityLincolnshire
1974 AuthorityLincolnshire
Civil ParishReston

The motte and bailey castle at Castle Hill survives well as a series of earthwork and buried deposits. These remains will preserve evidence of the form of the fortifications, and the artifically raised ground will preserve evidence of land use prior to the construction of the motte. The association of the motte and bailey castle with the abandoned village of Castle Carlton contributes to an understanding of the inter-relationship of contemporary components of the medieval landscape.

The monument includes the remains of a motte and bailey castle at Castle Hill, Castle Carlton. Castle Carlton lies between South Reston and Great Carlton and was held by Ansgot of Burwell following the Norman Conquest and subsequently by Ralph de la Haye, successor to Ansgot's title. By 1157 Hugh Bardolf had acquired Carlton from Ralph de la Haye. The property was divided amongst the Bardolf family in the 13th century with Castle Carlton passing by marriage to John Meriet in 1275 and remaining in the Meriot family for another century. The motte and bailey castle dates from the 11th or 12th century and is thought to have been built either as a post-Conquest fortification of Ansgot or as a response to the turmoil of King Stephen's reign by Ralph de la Haye, an active supporter of Stephen. The motte and bailey castle was associated with the village of Castle Carlton, 350m to the north east, believed to have been established in the mid-12th century and now abandoned.

The castle takes the form of a motte and double bailey enclosed by ditches, with external banks. The motte, which is located in the north eastern part of a roughly circular ditched enclosure, is a circular mound, measuring 40m in diameter and 8m high. It has steep sides and a flattened top, measuring approximately 15m

The bailey, where domestic buildings would have been located, occupies the southern and western part of the enclosure and is surrounded by a steep sided ditch, measuring up to 12m in width which retains water in places. The bailey is lined by internal banks along the southern and western sides and is divided in two by a broad ditch, aligned east to west, with access provided between the northern and southern portions of the bailey at the western end of the ditch.

The motte, bailey, and a narrow strip of ground to the north and east of the bailey are enclosed by a ditch measuring 8m to 12m in width with a narrow funnel entrance, formed by the curve of the ditch, providing access to the bailey on the southern side of the monument. (Scheduling Report)

Gatehouse Comments

Mentioned in 1205 as the manor of Karletoñ super mare cum castro despite being over 10km from the current coast. However much of the land between Carlton and the coast would have been marsh making the castle effectively by the sea in 1205. Wright et al (2015) suggest the round form of the earthwork could mean the castle is based on an earlier earthwork (they suggest pre-historic). They also suggest, as this is a relatively large motte, it is early probably C11 rather than Stephanic. The re-use of an existing earthwork may explain why the castle is so far from the centre of the fairly dispersed settlement of Carlton (the parish church of Carlton is 2.4km NE of the castle).

- Philip Davis

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 ReferenceTF395835
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved

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  • Osborne, Mike, 2010, Defending Lincolnshire: A Military History from Conquest to Cold War (The History Press) p. 26, 35, 68
  • Salter, Mike, 2002, The Castles of the East Midlands (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 48
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 148 (slight)
  • Roffe, David, 1993, 'Castles' in Bennett, S. and Bennett, N. (eds), An Historical Atlas of Lincolnshire (University of Hull Press) p. 40-1
  • Pevsner, Nikolaus and John Harris; revised by Nicholas Antram, 1989, Buildings of England: Lincolnshire (Harmondsworth) p. 371
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 260
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 203
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 134
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
  • Mackenzie, J.D., 1896, Castles of England; their story and structure (New York: Macmillan) Vol. 1 p. 432 online copy


  • < >Duncan Wright, Oliver Creighton, Michael Fradley and Steven Trick, 2015, 'Castle Carlton, Lincolnshire: The origins and evolution of a castle and medieval new town' Medieval Settlement Research Vol. 30 p. 25-33 < >
  • Owen, A.E.B., 1992, 'Castle Carlton: the origins of a medieval 'New Town'' Lincolnshire History and Archaeology Vol. 27 p. 17-22
  • Brown, R. Allen, 1959, 'A List of Castles, 1154–1216' English Historical Review Vol. 74 p. 249-280 (Reprinted in Brown, R. Allen, 1989, Castles, conquest and charters: collected papers (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 90-121) view online copy (subscription required)

Primary Sources

  • Hardy, D.H (ed), 1835, Rotuli de oblatis et finibus in Turri Londinensi asservati tempore Regis Johannis (London: PRO) p. 296 online copy


  • English Heritage. 1999. Revised scheduling document 31629. MPP 23