Laughton en le Morthen Castle Hill

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Motte)

There are earthwork remains

NameLaughton en le Morthen Castle Hill
Alternative NamesThurcroft Castle Hill; Castle Yard; Hallyard
Historic CountryYorkshire
Modern AuthorityRotherham
1974 AuthoritySouth Yorkshire
Civil ParishThurcroft

Castle Hill, Laughton en le Morthen, is a very well-preserved example of a conventional motte and bailey castle, consisting of a motte, c.9m high, with a kidney-shaped inner bailey to the north east, measuring c.50m x 20m. The bailey is surrounded by a substantial rampart with an outer ditch encircling the earthworks on the north, west and south. An outer bailey lay to the north and east under what is now the churchyard of the fourteenth century parish church of All Saints and part of its rampart can be seen as an earth bank running east-west immediately north of the church. These remains of the outer bailey have been disturbed by the use of the churchyard for burial, and, as the graveyard remains in active use, are not included in this scheduling. According to the Domesday Book, Laughton was the location of the hall of Earl Edwin of Mercia who was brother-in-law to King Harold Godwinson. It is thought that the site of the Saxon hall underlies the Norman earthworks since the church itself, adjacent to the site, lies on a Saxon foundation. After the Conquest, the manor was granted to Roger de Busli, who built the Norman castle, as part of the Honour of Tickhill. (Scheduling Report)

"The mound, measured in the bottom of the surrounding ditch, is 370 feet in circumference", and the ditch itself is 5 feet deep. "The truncated top of the mound is flat and measures 27 feet from east to west and 30 feet from north to south". The bailey is surrounded by a bank and ditch, the latter being of the same size as that surrounding the motte. There is no trace of an entrance or entrance causeway, but a gap on the east side is rather bigger than other gaps in the surrounding banks. "There are slight indications of earthworks on the north side of the area. No indication of the former existence of walls was apparent". (PastScape ref

Addy, 1914)

This fine, medium-sized motte-and-bailey castle is situated at the west end of this hilltop village at an altitude of 122m. It lies immediately to the south-west of the parish church and has extensive views to the north, west and south. The earthworks are surrounded by trees and bushes, but are themselves largely clear of obtrusive vegetation.

The primary feature of the site is a steep-sided mound some 9m high, 9m across its summit, and 112m around its base. The moat around this mound (dry at present) is 9m in width, and 1.5m in depth, and completely encircles it, leaving no indications as to the point of access.

The half-acre courtyard to the north-east is kidney-shaped and contained by an earth bank up to 2.5 m in height above the external ditch, which is rather weak now along the east side.

A bank leading north-north-east from this courtyard rampart may indicate the location of a former outer courtyard.

The site has not been the subject of any serious excavation and little or nothing is known of its history. The timber and earthwork motte and bailey, which may have been built on the site of Earl Edwin's Saxon hall, does not seem to have been developed in stone in the twelfth century and the castle may thus have been abandoned quite early. (Birch 1981)

Gatehouse Comments

A fine Saxon doorway remains in the adjacent church. Although it is assumed the castle earthworks are the work of Roger de Busli this dating is done on analogue grounds. It may be they represent a modification and enlargement of defensive entrenchments of Earl Edwins Hall. The form is now a fairly classic motte and kidney shaped bailey but, if a process similar to that which happen at Goltho, happen here it may have originally been a more rectangular enclosure.

- 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 ReferenceSK516882
Latitude53.3882217407227
Longitude-1.22529995441437
Eastings451620
Northings388210
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Photo by Philip Davis. All Rights Reserved

Laitude 53° 23' 17.35" Longitude -1° 13' 31.49"

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Laitude 53° 23' 17.35" Longitude -1° 13' 31.49"

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Laitude 53° 23' 17.35" Longitude -1° 13' 31.49"

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Laitude 53° 23' 17.35" Longitude -1° 13' 31.49"

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Laitude 53° 23' 17.35" Longitude -1° 13' 31.49"

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Laitude 53° 23' 17.25" Longitude -1° 13' 31.34"

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Laitude 53° 23' 17.25" Longitude -1° 13' 31.34"

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Laitude 53° 23' 17.25" Longitude -1° 13' 31.34"

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Photo by Philip Davis. All Rights Reserved

Laitude 53° 23' 17.25" Longitude -1° 13' 31.34"

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Photo by Philip Davis. All Rights Reserved

Laitude 53° 23' 17.25" Longitude -1° 13' 31.34"

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Laitude 53° 23' 17.56" Longitude -1° 13' 26.88"

Laughton-En-Le-Morthen Church 05092016 100843.Jpg

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Laitude 53° 23' 17.35" Longitude -1° 13' 31.49"

Laughton-En-Le-Morthen Motte 05092016 101810.Jpg

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Laitude 53° 23' 17.35" Longitude -1° 13' 31.49"

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Photo by Philip Davis. All Rights Reserved

Laitude 53° 23' 17.35" Longitude -1° 13' 31.49"

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Laitude 53° 23' 17.35" Longitude -1° 13' 31.49"

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Photo by Philip Davis. All Rights Reserved

Laitude 53° 23' 17.35" Longitude -1° 13' 31.49"

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Photo by Philip Davis. All Rights Reserved

Laitude 53° 23' 17.35" Longitude -1° 13' 31.49"

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Books

  • Turner, Maurice, 2004, Yorkshire Castles: Exploring Historic Yorkshire (Otley: Westbury Publishing) p. 241-2
  • Hey, David, 2003, Medieval South Yorkshire (Landmark Publishing) p. 73
  • Salter, Mike, 2001, The Castles and Tower Houses of Yorkshire (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 57
  • Ingham, Bernard, 2001, Bernard Ingham's Yorkshire Castles (Dalesman) p. 20
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 305
  • Sneyd, Steve, 1995, The Devil's Logbook Castles and Fortified Sites around South Yorkshire (Hilltop Press) p. 13
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 520-21
  • Ryder, P.F., 1982 (paperback edn 1992), The Medieval Buildings of Yorkshire (Ash Grove Book) p. 87-107
  • Hey, D., 1979, The Making of South Yorkshire (Ashbourne: Moorland) p. 40
  • Illingworth, J.L., 1938 (republished 1970), Yorkshire's Ruined Castles (Wakefield) p. 128
  • Armitage and Montgomerie, 1912, in Page, Wm (ed), VCH Yorkshire Vol. 2 p. 32-3
  • Armitage, Ella S., 1905, A key to English antiquites with special reference to the Sheffield and Rotherham district (London: J.M. Dent and Co) p. 55-6 online copy
  • Smith, Wm. (ed), 1881, Old Yorkshire p. 6-8
  • Clark, G.T., 1884, Mediaeval Military Architecture in England (Wyman and Sons) Vol. 1 p. 24 online copy

Journals

  • Creighton, O.H., 2004, ''The Rich Man in his Castle, The Poor Man at His Gate': Castle Baileys and Settlement Patterns in Norman England' Cha^teau Gaillard Vol. 21 p. 25-36
  • Birch, J., 1981, 'The castles and fortified houses of South Yorkshire' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 137 p. 374-6
  • Birch, J., 1981, 'Castle Yard or Thurcroft Castle Hill, Laughton-en-le-Morthen' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 137 p. 429-30
  • Addy, S.O., 1914-18, 'Some Defensive Earthworks in the neighbourhood of Sheffield' Transactions of the Hunter Archaeological Society Vol. 1 p. 357-9
  • Chalkley Gould, I., 1904, 'Some early defensive earthworks of the Sheffield district' Journal of the British Archaeological Association Vol. 10 p. 29-42 esp. 36-8 online copy
  • Gould, I.C., 1901, 'Early Defensive Earthworks' Journal of the British Archaeological Association Vol. 7 p. 15-38 esp. 33 online copy
  • Clark, G.T., 1889, 'Contribution towards a complete list of moated mounds or burhs' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 46 p. 197-217 esp. 215 online copy
  • Stacye, J., 1874, 'Laughton en-le-Mothen (or Morthing)' Journal of the British Archaeological Association Vol. 30 p. 397-408 online copy
  • Hills, G.M., 1874, 'Examples of ancient earthworks' Journal of the British Archaeological Association Vol. 30 p. 406-13 online copy
  • Clark, G.T., 1874, The Builder Vol. 32 p. 585-6

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
  • Creighton, O.H., 1998, Castles and Landscapes: An Archaeological Survey of Yorkshire and the East Midlands (PhD Thesis University of Leicester) p. 78, 163-6, 730 online copy