Grinton Oxhill

Has been described as a Possible Timber Castle (Motte)

There are earthwork remains

NameGrinton Oxhill
Alternative NamesOx Hill
Historic CountryYorkshire
Modern AuthorityNorth Yorkshire
1974 AuthorityNorth Yorkshire
Civil ParishGrinton

Two earthwork platforms set on a glacial ridge, one roughly square the other oval enclosed by an earth and stone bank. The exact purpose of these buildings is uncertain, but a medieval date has been suggested. (PastScape)

Set on top of the east end of a glacial ridge on the south side of the River Swale and centred at SE 05059846 is a level platform 'A' measuring approximately 50.0m square and about 1.6m high. The centre is featureless apart from a small uneven area to the north east. Surrounding this platform is a 'berm' or possibly a shallow infilled ditch? about 6.0m wide with traces of an outer bank in the south and west sides. This 'berm' has been mutilated by a circular excavation in the south west corner. Remains of a Medieval field system encroach on the 'berm' at the south east slopes of the glacial ridge as a field bank and lynchet. (See illustration card). About 150.0m to the west, the summit of the same glacial ridge has been levelled to form a roughly pear shaped area 'B', at SE 04909849. The interior of this area is occupied by the footings of a brick built building and a modern Royal Observer Corps post which have probably destroyed any earlier remains. The base of the ridge has been surrounded in the east and south by an earth and stone bank about 3.0m wide varying in height. In the north it follows the edge of the ridge up to the summit then cuts down the slope towards the south west corner to complete the enclosure which measures about 80.0m north to south by 70.0m. An entrance central to this bank in the east gives access to the interior and slight remains of a low bank can be seen going north west up the slope to the summit. There may possibly have been an approach up the slopes in the west. The two summits of 'A' and 'B' are separated by a natural hollow which has been artificially steepened in parts by scarping (the debris going to level platform 'A' to the east and contains a probable contemporary pond

The exact purpose of these earthworks is problematical and it is uncertain if A and B are contemporary or not. Both have probably been selected for habitation (though there are no definite traces of any now) but are only slightly "protected" rather than well defended as might have been expected. The remains (which could possibly be uncompleted and mutilated by later use) are suggestive of Medieval period. (PastScape ref. Field Investigators Comments–F1 AGM 08-AUG-77)

Gatehouse Comments

In effect the two hills have been turned in a motte and bailey respectively with a wider than usual space between them. The site is also dated as Iron Age although multi period use is probable. The location, near Grinton church and overlooking a crossing of the Swale, is strategic and medieval use is likely. There are hints the larger mound had a ditch at its base, presumably soon infilled with regular flooding from the Swale, suggesting the defences may have been stronger than the field investigator suggests.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSE050984
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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

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  • White, Robert, 2004, ‘Introduction’ in White, R F & Wilson, P R (eds) Archaeology and Historic Landscapes of the Yorkshire Dales (Yorkshire Archaeological Society Occasional Paper No 2) p. 1-14
  • White, Robert, 2002, The Yorkshire Dales. A Landscape Through Time (Ilkley: Great Northern Books)
  • Salter, Mike, 2001, The Castles and Tower Houses of Yorkshire (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 40
  • Jackson, M.J., 2001, Castles of North Yorkshire (Carlisle) p. 25 (plan)
  • Fleming, Andrew, 1998, Swaledale. Valley of the Wild River (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press)
  • Page, Wm (ed), 1914, VCH Yorkshire: North Riding Vol. 1 p. 237 online transcription
  • Armitage and Montgomerie, 1912, in Page, Wm (ed), VCH Yorkshire Vol. 216