Saxton Motte

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Motte), and also as a Certain Fortified Manor House

There are earthwork remains

NameSaxton Motte
Alternative Names
Historic CountryYorkshire
Modern AuthorityNorth Yorkshire
1974 AuthorityNorth Yorkshire
Civil ParishSaxton With Scarthingwell

The motte and bailey at Saxton includes remains of a medieval manor house which superseded the castle as the residence of the local lord and, although the defences of the bailey were subsequently altered, the motte is well preserved. The largely undisturbed interior of the bailey will contain below-ground remains of buildings associated with the castle and the manor. Because of the close association of the moat and bailey with the later manor house, Saxton Castle retains important evidence for the study of the continued development of the feudal system from its imposition after the Norman Conquest until the end of the Middle Ages. The monument includes a motte and bailey castle which has been altered by the building of a later medieval manor house in the north-eastern corner of the bailey and also by the creation of small enclosures, a trackway and a pond beside the motte. The monument is situated on gently sloping land which falls to the west. The motte is an earthen mound, 40m in diameter at the base and about 2m high. A slight 8m wide ditch surrounds the mound and there is a hollow area at the top which marks the site of the tower which was originally located there. The motte lies in the north-western quarter of a rectangular bailey which measures 180m east-west by 150m north-south. Although the ramparts have been largely altered by their incorporation into later land boundaries, the eastern side is still visible as a slight bank 20m wide and about 0.5m high running from Fircroft to Manor Farm, while to the west the limits of the bailey are respected by the line of Main Street and to the north and south by the curtilage of adjacent properties. A bank and ditch which runs just inside the eastern rampart bank is thought to be a field boundary earthwork associated with the later medieval manor house

The manor house, formerly the residence of the Hungate family, was demolished in the early 19th century but its foundations survive immediately to the south of Manor Farm. A hollow way, a disused trackway leading to the manor house, runs diagonally across the bailey of the castle at a tangent to the motte; small-scale quarrying has altered the appearance of the trackway adjacent to the motte. West of the motte and trackway are slight earthworks including linear banks and scarps which form at least three small rectangular enclosures, each about 20m across, which are the remains of gardens or house-plots. These were associated either with the manor house or with the medieval village which would have lain close by. An irregularly shaped pond lies to the south of the motte. The pond post-dates the trackway and the small enclosures and was probably constructed to collect rainwater run-off from the field. (Scheduling Report)

Suggested as a sub-centre for an outlying number of estates in the north-east of the honour of Pontefract. (Creighton)

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 ReferenceSE477368
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Photo by Philip Davis All Rights ReservedView full Sized Image (Panoramic images open in a new window)
Photo by Philip Davis. All Rights Reserved

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Latitude 53° 49' 28.2" Longitude -1° 16' 39.48"

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  • Creighton, O.H., 2002, Castles and landscapes: power, community and fortification in Medieval England (Equinox Publishing) p. 108-9
  • Salter, Mike, 2001, The Castles and Tower Houses of Yorkshire (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 83
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 524
  • Speight, Harry, 1902, Lower Wharfedale (London: Elliot Stock) p. 219 online copy

Primary Sources

  • Brown, W. (ed.), 1894, Pedes finium. Ebor. regnante Johanne (Surtees Society 94) p. 115 online copy


  • Creighton, O.H., 1998, Castles and Landscapes: An Archaeological Survey of Yorkshire and the East Midlands (PhD Thesis University of Leicester) p. 619-20 online copy