Withern Castle Hill

Has been described as a Possible Timber Castle (Motte Ringwork)

There are earthwork remains

NameWithern Castle Hill
Alternative Names
Historic CountryLincolnshire
Modern AuthorityLincolnshire
1974 AuthorityLincolnshire
Civil ParishWithern With Stain

The remains of the moated site and Civil War defences, known as Castle Hill, survive well as a series of earthworks and buried deposits preserving valuable evidence of the development of the monument throughout the medieval and post- medieval periods. The defensive position represents a response to the turmoil of the Civil War period as control of the area changed between opposing forces and was affected by raids and skirmishes. The artificially raised ground will preserve evidence of the land use prior to its construction, while waterlogged deposits will preserve organic remains (such as timber, leather and seeds) which will give an insight into the domestic and economic activity on the site. As a medieval site which was significantly altered during the Civil War, it contributes to our understanding of an important historical period.

The monument includes a medieval moated site which was altered by the addition of earthwork defences thought to date from the Civil War. Known as Castle Hill, it is located at Hall Farm 250m east of the church in Withern. In 1086 land at Withern was held by Earl Hugh as part of his manor of Greetham, and between the 13th and 15th centuries it was variously held by the Well family and the Crown. From the 15th to the 18th centuries a branch of the Fitzwilliam family, established at Mablethorpe Hall, held large estates in Withern and Mablethorpe; 17th century documentary evidence makes reference to Fitzwilliams at Withern, and Castle Hill is believed to have been the location of a house belonging to the Fitzwilliam family. In the post-medieval period a building, known as Withern Hall, was located immediately to the north west of the site but was later destroyed.

Although medieval in origin, the moated site is believed to have been altered in the post-medieval period to form a defensive position which included the creation of ramparts and angle bastions together with the enhancement of the moat

Situated on fairly level ground, on the eastern side of the Great Eau, it takes the form of a large embanked enclosure raised 2m above the surrounding ground level and enclosed by a moat. The moat, now dry, is steep sided measuring 12m to 18m in width and up to 2m deep. The moated enclosure is trapezoidal in plan measuring 80m by 75m tapering to 60m in width at the south eastern side. The level interior is enclosed on three sides, to the north east, south east and south west, by a steep sided, flat-topped earthen bank or rampart, standing up to 1.5m high and measuring 8m to 10m in width at the base and approximately 6m in width at the top. At each corner the rampart splays outward forming a platform approximately 7m in width; these are thought to represent bastions, which would have provided gun emplacements. The north eastern rampart is interrupted mid-way along its length by a narrow hollow leading down to the moat, thought to represent a modern access point.

During the Civil War the area around Withern was garrisoned by the Parliamentarians, including Mablethorpe Hall; these positions were captured by the Royalists in the summer of 1643 and were then retaken by Parliamentarian forces, although subsequently raids continued to be made in the area. The alterations to the moated site would have provided defences overlooking the approaches to the site and the nearby church. The north western side of the monument where the rampart is absent would have been afforded protection by the low-lying ground between the monument and the river, an area prone to flooding. (Scheduling Report)

Gatehouse Comments

This is recorded by David King as a motte but recorded in the archaeological database records and scheduling report as a medieval moated site with C17 alterations. The later alterations make judgement of medieval fortification difficult but this could originally have be a low motte of the building platform type or a ringwork with a raised interior. However it is a regular shape (basically a square with one corner cut off to fit with the pre-existing road) and this perhaps argues for it being a C13-C15 moated site of a sort not usually called a fortification. There is a possibility the C17 alterations have produced this regular form from what was a somewhat more rounded form. There may be other reasons for a 'castle' name for the site. Osborne suggests this was a Anarchy castle of Earl Ranulf, along with Castle Carlton and Tothill although actual historical or archaeological evidence for this suggestion seems scant.

- 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 ReferenceTF427821
Latitude53.3168716430664
Longitude0.141000002622604
Eastings542720
Northings382130
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved

Most of the sites or buildings recorded in this web site are NOT open to the public and permission to visit a site must always be sought from the landowner or tenant.

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Books

  • Osborne, Mike, 2010, Defending Lincolnshire: A Military History from Conquest to Cold War (The History Press) p. 35
  • Salter, Mike, 2002, The Castles of the East Midlands (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 69
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 264
  • Pevsner, Nikolaus, 1964, Buildings of England: Lincolnshire (Harmondsworth) p. 428 (slight)

Other

  • English Heritage, 2000, Scheduling record: Castle Hill: moated site with Civil War Earthworks. SAM 31634