Castle Carlton Borough Defences

Has been described as a Questionable Urban Defence

There are earthwork remains

NameCastle Carlton Borough Defences
Alternative NamesMarket Carlton; Karleton
Historic CountryLincolnshire
Modern AuthorityLincolnshire
1974 AuthorityLincolnshire
Civil ParishReston

the earthworks of a settlement adjacent to the motte and bailey castle have traditionally been interpreted as the vestiges of the deserted Domesday 'village' of Carlton, references in the C15 source known as the Wigston Manuscript suggest rather the existence of a borough established by the castle lord c.1157-8.

Detailed examination of the site shows this settlement to have been embraced within a rectangular earthwork measuring c. 500m by 140m attached to the castle, seeming to represent the vestiges of earth and timber defences. (Creighton and Higham 2005)

The archaeological evidence is particularly clear in showing that the castle and planted town were located at distinctly separate sites, and it is always certain that the two centres did not emerge contemporaneously as had previously been argued. Rather it appears the motte and bailey was constructed in the 12th or more likely the late 11th century possibly, as part of the early Norman supplement of Lincolnshire. The evidence from the written sources revealed into town at Castle Carlton was established significantly later probably by Robert Bardolph in the 1220s. Bardolf's nascent community was not centred upon the pre-existing castle, however, but was instead located on their major thoroughfare leading eastward towards Great Carlton and the coast. It is possible that the route itself was already in existence when the town was founded, and may have represented one of the informal ways of reaching the areas of salt extraction which characterise the Outmarsh. The new town at Castle Carlton does not appear to have flourished for long if indeed at all, and the market is not mentioned following it first evaluation in 1247. (Wright et al 2015)

Gatehouse Comments

Previously (until Nov 2015) recorded as a 'certain' example of an urban defence. However Wright et al seem to suggest the failed C13 borough was at a site somewhat to the east and was undefended and the existing earthwork represents an outer bailey of the castle.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceTF396835
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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

() above

Latitude 53° 19' 48.47" Longitude 0° 5' 41.59"

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Photo by Philip Davis. All Rights Reserved

() above

Latitude 53° 19' 48.47" Longitude 0° 5' 41.59"

View full Sized Image
Photo by Philip Davis. All Rights Reserved

() above

Latitude 53° 19' 48.47" Longitude 0° 5' 41.59"

View full Sized Image

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  • Osborne, Mike, 2010, Defending Lincolnshire: A Military History from Conquest to Cold War (The History Press) p. 32, 53
  • Creighton, O.H. and Higham, R.A., 2005, Medieval Town Walls (Stroud: Tempus) p. 28, 80, 267
  • Everson, P., 1986, 'Occupation du sol au moyen age et a l'epoque moderne dans le nord du Lincolnshire' in A. Ferière and E. Zadora-Rio (eds) La prospection archéologique. Paysage et peuplement (Documents d'Archéologie Française no. 3)
  • Beresford, M.W. and Hurst, J.G., 1971, Deserted Medieval Villages p. 193
  • Gough, R. (ed), 1789, Britannia, by William Camden (London) p. 274


  • < >Duncan Wright, Oliver Creighton, Michael Fradley and Steven Trick, 2015, 'Castle Carlton, Lincolnshire: The origins and evolution of a castle and medieval new town' Medieval Settlement Research Vol. 30 p. 25-33 < >
  • Owen, A.E.B., 1992, 'Castle Carlton: the origins of a medieval 'New Town'' Lincolnshire History and Archaeology Vol. 27 p. 17-22

Primary Sources

  • Hardy, T.D. (ed), 1837, Rotuli Chartarum, 1199-1216 (Record Commission) p. 91 (grant of annual fair at Karleton) view online copy


  • Creighton, O.H., 1998, Castles and Landscapes: An Archaeological Survey of Yorkshire and the East Midlands (PhD Thesis University of Leicester) p. 288, 309-10 online copy