North Craven Historical Research Group
Outreach and Education Resources

School Project: Motte and Bailey Castles--- (What is a motte and bailey castle?)

The earliest recorded direct mention of the motte and bailey castle at Burton in Lonsdale was during the early 14th century period in an account rendered to the Exchequer by Robert de Widvilla and Henry de Montfort for expenses ‘de castro de Burtona de Lanesdala’ for payment of a ‘militis’ (knight), 10 ‘servientes’ (sergeants), a ‘janitoris’ (gatekeeper) and a ‘vigil’ (watchman) [1] Also Moorhouse [2] discusses this and gives a review of finds in excavations at the motte in Burton.

Stephens [4] infers from the 1379 Poll Tax that the castle at Burton ceased to function a little before 1379, by observing that Adam and Willhelmus de Burgh were in the Poll Tax returns from Thornton, not Burton. The Norman castle was more of a support base than a stronghold; he further conjectures that whereas there is no archaeology to support that it was formerly an Anglo-Saxon fortified site, it may be worth considering it as one of several in the Lunesdale area that could have been in use as signaling posts by the Romans. Burton was the head manor of the Burton Chase, a roughly circular region centred on Ingleborough that included Whernside, Penyghent, Lawkland and Bentham; Ewcross was the wapentake area that included Burton.


What is a motte and bailey castle?
Google links to motte and bailey
Origins of motte and bailey castles
On-line National Grid For Learning: Motte and bailey
British History Online
On-line National Archives: Manorial Documents Register
On-line National Archives: Manorial Documents Glossary
Magna Carta
On-line dictionary

Project Description
The object of the project is to discover from your local area, or nationally, examples of motte and bailey castle sites, obtain designs, estimates of dimensions and any available historical information concerning their origins.

A link above is given to an on-line dictionary which includes many old legal terms and comments on etymology, but you may wish to look up elsewhere other words and usage to obtain more information to elaborate meanings and to make notes about the historical origins of the legal terminology---see for example On-line National Archives: Manorial Documents Glossary.

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