Felixkirk Howe Hill

Has been described as a Possible Timber Castle (Motte)

There are earthwork remains

NameFelixkirk Howe Hill
Alternative NamesFeliskirk
Historic CountryYorkshire
Modern AuthorityNorth Yorkshire
1974 AuthorityNorth Yorkshire
Civil ParishFelixkirk

King writes this is a much damaged motte and bailey. English Heritage have scheduled the monument as a Bronze Age bowl barrow. In centre of village.

A bowl barrow which is situated on the crest of a prominent knoll in the centre of the village. The dome-shaped mound is 10m in diameter and about 1.5m in height (a slight but clearly-defined break of slope at the foot of the barrow distinguishes the artificial mound from the natural hillside). A quarry ditch is thought to encircle the mound but it has become infilled over the years and is no longer visible; the ditch is estimated by comparison with known examples to be about 2m wide, thus giving the monument a total diameter of 14m. Immediately to the west of the barrow, the natural hillside has been quarried away to accommodate the Thirsk road and the barrow is now very close to the edge of the scarp. There is no evidence that the mound has ever been opened and, although the roots of a mature tree growing from the summit of the barrow may have caused some disruption of archaeological deposits, the barrow's contents will be largely intact. Some recent maps refer to the barrow as a motte (a type of Norman earthwork castle) but this description is now considered erroneous. The name 'Howe Hill' is commonly associated with burial mound sites. (Scheduling Report)

This small motte lies 140m south of Felix Kirk church. It has been much damaged by road construction but the site of a probable bailey is occupied by the village green. The roads cutting into mound have also removed any evidence of ditch or counterscrap bank. The narrow flat summit has no evidence of structures (OS record card). Norman in origin containing a great hall and living apartments (l'Anson, 1913). Supposed Medieval motte, more likely to be a Bronze Age bowl barrow. (North Yorkshire HER)

Gatehouse Comments

The mound is damaged and absolute statements about the function of this mound can not be made. This may be a case of a church being built near to an existing spiritually significant site, although in such case the church is usually adjacent to such sites (usually actual on top of such sites.). In this case the church is at one end of the village and the mound occupies what is now a triangular site at the other end of the village in a location often a manorial centre in other small villages. Certainly a grand house occupies the site of any likely bailey, as mentioned in the OS record. The natural lie of the land means a bailey on this site would not need substantial earthworks to have the reasonably level of security most such small domestic castles had. In such castles it is the bailey where all the significant building were and these building were altered and renewed throughout the ages. The relatively useless motte, with its symbolic tower, was just left to decay. This mound may have started as a prehistoric burial mound but that does not exclude use as a motte and the location makes it difficult to see such use not being made.

- 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 ReferenceSE467846
Latitude54.2552185058594
Longitude-1.28420996665955
Eastings446730
Northings484630
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved

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Books

  • Turner, Maurice, 2004, Yorkshire Castles: Exploring Historic Yorkshire (Otley: Westbury Publishing) p. 182-3, 239
  • Salter, Mike, 2001, The Castles and Tower Houses of Yorkshire (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 37
  • Jackson, M.J., 2001, Castles of North Yorkshire (Carlisle) p. 23
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 517

Journals

  • I'Anson, W.M., 1913, 'The castles of the North Riding' Yorkshire Archaeological Journal Vol. 22 p. 347

Other

  • 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