Castle Hill motte and bailey and bowl barrow


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

St. Helens (Metropolitan Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SJ 59606 96177

Reasons for Designation

Motte and bailey castles are medieval fortifications introduced into Britain by the Normans. They comprised a large conical mound of earth or rubble, the motte, surmounted by a palisade and a stone or timber tower. In a majority of examples an embanked enclosure containing additional buildings, the bailey, adjoined the motte. Motte castles and motte-and-bailey castles acted as garrison forts during offensive military operations, as strongholds, and, in many cases, as aristocratic residences and as centres of local or royal administration. Built in towns, villages and open countryside, motte and bailey castles generally occupied strategic positions dominating their immediate locality and, as a result, are the most visually impressive monuments of the early post-Conquest period surviving in the modern landscape. Over 600 motte castles or motte-and-bailey castles are recorded nationally, with examples known from most regions. As one of a restricted range of recognised early post-Conquest monuments, they are particularly important for the study of Norman Britain and the development of the feudal system. Although many were occupied for only a short period of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.

The motte at Castle Hill, Newton, remains reasonably well preserved, despite the earth-moving activities which have obscured the bailey which originally lay at its base. The site is unusual in that limited excavation into the base of the mound in the 19th century revealed evidence of burials, indicating that the medieval motte was constructed over an earlier, possibly Prehistoric, burial monument.


The monument is Castle Hill motte, Newton. The motte is situated on a commanding site at the northeast corner of an elevated platform within the elbow formed by the deep-cut valley of the River Dene - latterly dammed to form Newton Lake. The monument includes a slightly oval mound of sandy earth raised upon largely bare sandstone bedrock. The motte measures c.5m high and has diameters of 32m at the base and 13m across the summit. There are faint traces of an encircling ditch some 10m wide with a maximum depth of 0.2m on the motte's southwest side. All traces of the associated bailey have been obscured by massive earthmoving operations undertaken during construction of the nearby motorway. Limited excavation of the motte was undertaken in 1843. An opening 1.2m square was made on the western side of the mound at the level of the original ground surface. This was driven forward horizontally towards the centre of the motte until it met a shaft 1.8m diameter that was sunk at the same time from the top of the mound. From this point a tunnel 0.9m square was driven horizontally along the original ground surface into the south side of the motte. At a distance of some 3m from the centre of the motte a narrow chamber 6.4m long and 0.6m high, possessing an arched roof made of pressed clay, was found. Within this chamber lay wood ash and burnt bone. Newton was the seat of a medieval barony, while documentary evidence from the 15th century refers to Castle Hill Field.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
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Books and journals
Farrer, W, Brownbill, J, The Victoria History of the County of Lancashire, (1914)
Farrer, W, Brownbill, J, The Victoria History of the County of Lancashire, (1914)
Sibson, E, 'Manchester Literatry and Philosophical Society, Series 2' in Account Of Opening Of Ancient Barrow Called Castle Hill, , Vol. VII, (1843)
Evans (Owner's Agent), To Robinson, K.D. MPPFW, (1991)
Leach, P.E., MPP Single Monument Class Descriptions - Motte & Bailey Castles, (1988)


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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