Castles in South Yorkshire

While there are many castles in South Yorkshire, the majority are manor houses and motte-and-bailey which were commonly found in England after the Norman Conquest.[1]

Conisbrough keep
The keep of Conisbrough Castle

Mediaeval Castles


Beighton is now a suburb of Sheffield, but in the mediaeval period lay just over the county boundary in Derbyshire. Its castle is known only from a single thirteenth century reference to "the tower of the former castle", and its location is not known with certainty.[2] However, the Enclosure Plan for the village and a plan made in 1792 indicate a site by the River Rother, which may have formed a moat.[3]


Bailey Hill, High Bradfield
Bailey Hill in Bradfield

Bradfield lies north west of Sheffield. Two sites in the village have been identified with castles. Bailey Hill is a 60-foot-high (18 m) motte, and an eighteenth-century excavation found stonework, suggesting that its castle may have been rebuilt in stone. Its bailey covered three-quarters of an acre, and its surrounding ditch and rampart still stand up to 30 feet (9.1 m) high. The village grew up around this castle, which was dependent on Sheffield Castle.[2] The site is a scheduled ancient monument.[4]

Nearby Castle Hill has been variously identified as a ringwork, a natural look-out point,[2] or a siege work. The hill, which could possibly be a motte, has been quarried, although one source suggests remains of a keep were visible in 1819.[5]


Conisbrough Castle dates from the twelfth-century castle. Its remains are dominated by the 100 ft (30 m) high circular keep, which is supported by six buttresses. In the mid-1990s, the keep was restored, with a wooden roof and two floors being rebuilt. The building is considered one of South Yorkshire's primary tourist attractions, and sees in excess of 35,000 visitors per year.[6]


Doncaster Castle lay on the site of the town's Roman fort, beside the River Don. It stood on a motte, which lies under the east end of St George's Minster. The motte was surrounded by a 16-foot (4.9 m) deep ditch, 30 feet (9.1 m) wide, which later marked the bounds of St George's churchyard. The castle was demolished, probably in the twelfth century, and there are no visible remains.[2]


Hickleton lies west of Doncaster. Its castle was a motte and bailey, known from a seventeenth-century sketch of the motte made by Roger Dodsworth. The site was subsequently destroyed by quarrying, and no remains are visible.[2]


Kimberworth lies west of Rotherham. Its wooden castle was a motte and bailey, dependent on Tickhill Castle. The motte survives, but there is no visible evidence of the bailey, and the castle was never rebuilt in stone.[2] The site is a scheduled ancient monument.[7]


Laughton-en-le-Morthen lies south east of Rotherham. Laughton Castle was a motte and bailey dependent on Tickhill Castle, and was probably built on the site of a hall owned by Edwin, Earl of Mercia. The motte survives, as does a ditch surrounding the bailey.[2] The castle was probably originally built by Roger de Busli, and may predate his castle at Tickhill.[8] The site is a scheduled ancient monument.[9]


Langthwaite lay north of Doncaster. The village is now abandoned,[2] but the site of the castle lies near Adwick-le-Street.[10] The castle was a motte and bailey. The motte survives, reduced in height, while a 40-foot (12 m) wide ditch marks the outline of the bailey.[2] The site is a scheduled ancient monument.[11]


Mexborough lies north of Rotherham. Its wooden castle was a motte and bailey, dependent on Tickhill Castle. The motte and earthworks of the bailey survive in a public park (Castle Hills Park) and so are freely accessible during daylight hours. The castle was never rebuilt in stone.[2] Although reduced in size, the motte stands 52 feet (16 m) high, and is surrounded by a six-foot bank and a 50 ft (15 m) wide ditch. The site is a scheduled ancient monument.[12]


The first Sheffield Castle was a wooden motte and bailey type, built for William de Lovetot in the early twelfth century. The first castle was destroyed during the Second Barons' War in 1266, along with the rest of the town, and was replaced by a larger stone castle in 1270. The castle was badly damaged in the English Civil War and largely demolished in 1648.


Skellow lies north west of Doncaster. Its castle was a motte and bailey. The motte survives in the grounds of Skellow Hall, and part of the earthworks of the bailey can be seen in a field to the north. The site was reused during the English Civil War, and is now known as Cromwell's Batteries.[2] The site is a scheduled ancient monument.[13]


Tickhill Castle - - 297181 cropped
Part of Tickhill Castle

Tickhill Castle was a prominent stronghold in the reign of King John I of England.[14]


Peel Hill Castle, Thorne - - 740974
The motte of Thorne Castle

Thorne lies north east of Doncaster. Its castle was a motte and bailey dependent on Conisbrough.[2] The motte survives, now known as Peel Hill. A ditch around the motte also survives, and a few wall fragments have been found. The castle may have also acted as a hunting lodge for Hatfield Chase.[15] The tower, built of masonry, survived at least until the fifteenth century, when John Leland wrote that "by the church garth of Thorne is a praty pile or castelet, well diked, now used for a prison for offenders in the forestes". The foundations were largely removed in the 1820s. The site is now a scheduled ancient monument.[16]

Other sites

There is a Castle Hill in Hampole, but the site has been heavily ploughed, and no evidence of a castle survives.[2] There was a fortified manor house at Bolsterstone ("Bolsterstone Castle") of which only remnants remain.[17] Fenwick has a mediaeval moat, and this site has been identified as the possible location of a fortification noted in 1272.[18] Darfield New Hall was the site of a tower house built around the fifteenth century, sometimes identified as a pele tower.[19] Cusworth Park in Sprotborough has a "Castle Hill", sometimes identified as a motte, but this may be a landscape gardening feature.[20]

Manor Houses


Houndhill in Worsbrough, Barnsley. The house has two sides of mediaeval fortification walls remaining along with two of the original four turrets. The fortified manor house was defended by fifty men-at arms during the English Civil War. The house still remains in the hands of the Elmhirst family who owned it at the time of the civil war.

Manor Lodge

Sheffield Manor - Turret 17-04-06
The Turret House at Manor Lodge

Other sites

Bentley has a double moat, with foundations of a building visible on the central platform. This may have been a mediaeval manor house.[21] Rossington similarly has the Draw Dykes Moat, which was probably the site of a manor house, although there could conceivably have been a castle there.[22] Hooton Pagnell Hall is a Tudor building, likely built on the site of a manor house.[23] Cowley Manor in Ecclesfield was demolished in the seventeenth century, but is believed to have been a moated manor house.[24]

Post-Medieval structures

Stainborough Castle

Stainborough Castle01 bright 2007-08-13
Stainborough Castle

Stainborough Castle, in the grounds of Wentworth Castle, is a folly built from 1726 and inscribed "Rebuilt in 1730". It missed by only a few years being the first sham castle in an English landscape garden.

Wentworth Castle

Wentworth Castle, near Barnsley, is a former stately home, the seat of the recreated Earls of Strafford.

See also


  1. ^ Rowley 1997, p. 71.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m David Hey, Medieval South Yorkshire
  3. ^ Our Beighton: Ancient History: Castle and Mill
  4. ^ Bradfield Bailey Hill
  5. ^ Bradfield Castle Hill
  6. ^ "The last 50 Years | Conisbrough Castle". Retrieved 10 January 2017.
  7. ^ Rotherham Motte
  8. ^ Adrian Pettifer, English Castles: A Guide by Counties
  9. ^ Laughton en le Morthen Castle Hill
  10. ^ List of the Medieval Fortified Sites of the historic county of Yorkshire West Riding
  11. ^ Adwick le Street Castle Hills
  12. ^ Mexborough Castle Hill
  13. ^ Skellow, Cromwells Batteries
  14. ^ W. Stubbs, ed. Chronica magistri Rogeri de Houedene
  15. ^ Thorne Peel Hill
  16. ^ The Historical significance of Thornes Peel Hill Motte Archived 12 May 2006 at the Wayback Machine, Thorne-Moorends Town Council
  17. ^ Bolsterstone Castle
  18. ^ Fenwick Moat Hill
  19. ^ Darfield New Hall
  20. ^ Cusworth Castle Hill, Sprotborough
  21. ^ Bentley Moat Hills
  22. ^ Rossington
  23. ^ Hooton Pagnell Hall
  24. ^ Cowley Manor, Ecclesfield


  • Rowley, Trevor (1997). Norman England. Batsford and English Heritage. ISBN 0-7134-8060-2.
Conisbrough Castle

Conisbrough Castle is a medieval fortification in Conisbrough, South Yorkshire, England. The castle was initially built in the 11th century by William de Warenne, the Earl of Surrey, after the Norman conquest of England in 1066. Hamelin Plantagenet, the illegitimate, parvenu son of Henry II, acquired the property by marriage in the late 12th century. Hamelin and his son William rebuilt the castle in stone, including its prominent 28-metre (92 ft)-high keep. The castle remained in the family line into the 14th century, despite being seized several times by the Crown. The fortification was then given to Edmund of Langley, passing back into royal ownership in 1461.

Conisbrough Castle fell into ruin, its outer wall badly affected by subsidence, and was given to the Carey family in the 16th century. Its derelict state prevented it from involvement in the English Civil War of the 17th century and the remains were bought by the Duke of Leeds in 1737. Sir Walter Scott used the location for his 1819 novel Ivanhoe and by the end of the 19th century the ruins had become a tourist attraction, despite the increasing industrial character of the area.

The state took over the management of the property in 1950, but by the 1980s the visitor facilities were felt to be unsuitable, leading to a three-way partnership being created between the local council, the state agency English Heritage and a local charitable trust to develop the castle. The keep was re-roofed and re-floored in the 1990s with the help of European Union funding. English Heritage took over control of the castle in 2008 and continues to operate the property as a tourist attraction.

The castle is made up of an inner and an outer bailey, the former surrounded by a stone curtain wall defended by six mural or fortified towers and the castle keep. The inner bailey would have included a hall, solar, chapel and other service buildings of which only the foundations survive. The design of Conisbrough's keep is unique in England, and the historians Oliver Creighton and Stephen Johnson consider it an "architectural gem" and "one of the finest examples of late Norman defensive architecture". The keep comprises a circular central tower with six massive buttresses; its four floors would have included a main chamber and a private chamber for the lord above it. Although militarily weak, the design would have been a powerful symbol of Hamelin Plantagenet's new social status as a major lord.


Hangthwaite Castle was an earthwork motte and bailey castle founded by Nigel Fozzard. It stood in the 11th century and is situated just north of Scawthorpe, Doncaster, South Yorkshire, England. In the 13th century, a fortified house called Radcliffe Moat (53.5554°N 1.1639°W / 53.5554; -1.1639 (Radcliffe Moat)) replaced Hangthwaite Castle as a local fortification. Nowadays, only the motte and the ditches remain. Encased by the wide wet ditch, the motte defends a bean-shaped eastern bailey and a small north-western mound, which is possibly a barbican.It is known locally as Castle Hills, with a school, just a few hundred yards away bearing the name Castle Hills Primary School.

List of castles in Greater Manchester

There are nine castles in Greater Manchester, a metropolitan county in North West England. They consist of four motte-and-baileys, three fortified manor houses, an enclosure castle, and a possible shell keep. A motte-and-bailey castle has two elements, the motte is an artificial conical mound with a wooden stockade and stronghold on top, usually a stone keep or tower. A bailey is a defended enclosure below the motte, surrounded by a ditch. Motte-and-bailey castles were the most common type of castle in England following the Norman Conquest. A shell keep was a motte with a stone wall rather than a wooden stockade on top; there would have been no tower within the walls. Four of Greater Manchester's castles are Scheduled Ancient Monuments: Buckton, Bury, Radcliffe Tower, and Watch Hill. A Scheduled Ancient Monument is a "nationally important" archaeological site or historic building, given protection against unauthorised change.The purpose of a castle was not simply militaristic, but was also considered to be a stamp of authority over the population of an area and a status symbol. Some would have acted as centres of trade and administration for a manor. The earliest castles in Greater Manchester are Dunham and Watch Hill in Trafford, Ullerwood in Manchester, and Stockport Castle in Stockport. They were first recorded in 1173 as belonging to barons who had rebelled against Henry II, and at least three were motte-and-bailey castles, probably because of the speed and ease with which they could be erected. Hamon de Massey, who owned the Trafford castles and Ullerwood, and Geoffrey de Constentyn, who owned Stockport Castle, were two of the three rebels from Cheshire; the other was the Earl of Chester, the owner of Chester Castle. Castles continued to be built in the area, although the last to be built in Greater Manchester were two fortified manor houses near Bury, built more for comfort than as utilitarian military structures. Bury Castle and Radcliffe Tower followed the national trend in the 13th century; they would most likely have acted as the centre of the manor they served.

Sheffield Castle

Sheffield Castle was a castle in Sheffield, England, constructed at the confluence of the River Sheaf and the River Don, possibly on the site of a former Anglo-Saxon long house, and dominating the early town. A motte and bailey castle had been constructed on the site at some time in the century following the Norman Conquest of England in 1066. This was destroyed in the Second Barons' War. Construction of a second castle, this time in stone, began four years later in 1270.

Mary, Queen of Scots, was held prisoner in this castle and its associated estates for 14 years between 1570 and 1584. The castle was held by Royalist forces for part of the English Civil War, and was surrendered to the Parliamentarians in 1644 following a short siege. Its demolition was ordered soon after, and the castle was razed. There are no known surviving drawings or plans of the castle, but excavations in the 1920s revealed stone foundations from the castle begun in 1270 as well as evidence of earlier structures.

Tickhill Castle

Tickhill Castle was a castle in Tickhill, on the Nottingham/Yorkshire West Riding border, England and a prominent stronghold during the reign of King John.

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