Bradfield Castle Hill

Has been described as a Possible Timber Castle (Motte Ringwork), and also as a Possible Masonry Castle, and also as a Rejected Siege Work

There are earthwork remains

NameBradfield Castle Hill
Alternative Names
Historic CountryYorkshire
Modern AuthoritySheffield
1974 AuthoritySouth Yorkshire
Civil ParishBradfield

At Castle Hill in Hunter's time the remains of a keep were visible, with a ditch round it except on the steep side of the hill (VCH). An elongated motte with circumscribing ditch occupies the northern extremity of the long natural ridge at Castle Hill. The motte, which has an average height of 4.0m, merges with the steep scarp of the ridge in the south. Its sides have been extensively quarried, and the top has been mutilated. No traces of any building foundations are visible. A surrounding ditch has been partially infilled by the quarrying activity. It is best preserved on the northern side where it has a maximum depth of 1.0m. There are no other apparent outworks (Field Investigators Comments–F1 RWE 03-JUL-61). Listed as a probable ringwork. It is suggested the site could be a siege castle or a predecessor to Bailey Hill (SK 29 SE/12). (Birch, 1981)

The rocky outcrop on the skyline to the east of the church, known as Castle Hill, may have been a natural feature rather than a fortified site, though perhaps it was a simple type of defence known as a ringwork or merely a look-out point. (Hey, 1973)

Castle Hill. This is less perfect than Bailey Hill; but the remains of a keep are visible, surrounded by a ditch, except on the steep side of the hill, where a ditch was not necessary; and on the slope of the hill there is an appearance of an intrenchment. ... The indications of artificial work at Castle Hill are very faint. These note were made on the spot in July 1826. (Hunter)

This area has never been subject to ploughing or intense agriculture. There is no reason to feel this 'earthwork' would have been subject to greater erosion than Bailey Hill. It was slight in 1826 and probably slight in 1200. It has, however, been subject to much small quarrying of the sort required for the local stone field walls. The southern side may have been more systematically quarried

On low resolution air photos there does appear to be a ring feature around the hill top but on higher resolution air photos this apparent feature disappears and nothing that is clearly not natural can be made out. However this apparent feature does seem to represent something on the ground, since it occurs in early OS maps but this appears to be natural plus a few disconnected quarry trenches plus sheep track following contour lines. The nature of the supposed 'keep' reported in Hunter is unclear. Some authors seem to have assumed this was a masonry building but when Hunter was writing archaeological nomenclature was no standardised and various terms, including keep, were used for what C20 writers call a motte and therefore this need not necessarily refer to a stonework. This is clearly not a siege work, nor is its form or location likely to be that of a predecessor site. The field just to the north of Castle Hill is called Castle Fields on the OS map. The field to the east of that is marked 'Vicar of Ecclesfield for tithes' on the tithe award map - in other parishes with less complex church holdings such a field would have been called Church Field and it may be Castle Field was the demense holding of the Bailey Hill castle. It is, therefore, possibly that Castle Hill was originally "the hill in Castle Field" with no suggestion of it being an actual castle site. The name, having been shortened at some early date, and the slight but suggestive natural contours of the hill then leading to rather fanciful suggestions of a castle here. Alternatively this hill, which is very prominent when viewed from the village, was the centre for children's play for generations. Clearly some further investigation on the ground, probably including excavation, is required here. (Philip Davis personal comments and observations 2011)

Gatehouse Comments

Although Gatehouse feels this is a natural hill, modified by some small quarries, the site is scheduled as a motte and bailey so this record maintains this as a 'possible' site. However, others I have discussed the site with are more convinced of this being the site of some sort of medieval building possible a hunting viewing platform.

- 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 ReferenceSK271923
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
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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  • Historic England, 2015, Heritage at Risk Yorkshire Register 2015 (London: Historic England) p. 80 online copy
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  • English Heritage, 2013, Heritage at Risk Register 2013 Yorkshire (London: English Heritage) p. 94 online copy
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