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Kirkby Lonsdale Cockpit Hill

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
The Cockpit; Cockpit Hill; Kirby Lonsdale

In the civil parish of Kirkby Lonsdale.
In the historic county of Westmorland.
Modern Authority of Cumbria.
1974 county of Cumbria.
Medieval County of Westmorland.

OS Map Grid Reference: SD61087898
Latitude 54.20499° Longitude -2.59815°

Kirkby Lonsdale Cockpit Hill has been described as a certain Timber Castle.

There are cropmark/slight earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


Probable earthwork remains of a Medieval motte; reused as a post-Medieval cockpit. The mound is 130ft in diameter and in poor condition. (PastScape)

Cockpit Hill, 150 yards N. of the church, stands on a bluff on the W. bank of the Lune. It would appear to have been a small motte and now consists of a mound, about 130 ft. in diameter and rising at most some 19 ft. above the bottom of the slight ditch which surrounds it except on the E. The mound has been damaged by the formation of a path on the E. side and by some excavation on the top, perhaps to adapt it for use as a cock-pit.
Condition—Bad. (RCHME 1936)

Cockpit Hill Motte is a scheduled monument situated on a bluff above the steep bank of the River Lune, north of the church. There is no trace of a bailey associated with the motte. Curwen (1913) considered that the motte had been formed by cutting deep trenches across the high end of a ridge and the earth being piled into the centre to raise the level of the motte. The exact nature of the use of the Motte is uncertain. (Extensive Urban Survey)

Before the Conquest Thorfinnr held Kirkby Lonsdale as one of his twelve manors in Austwick. By 1100 Ivo Talebois held it as Baron of Kendal and gave the church with its land, amounting to perhaps three-quarters of the township, to the monks of St. Mary's Abbey, York. (Garnett 2013)

Possibly a C11 motte built in an area that had been contested with the Kingdom of Strathclyde but by 1100 was securely within the realm of England. The early granting of the manor to St Mary's Abbey York suggests early abandonment. Had there been an earlier fortification here when the area was more actively contested? Was this a deliberate act of demilitarisation or merely an efficiency driven remodelling of estate holdings combined with (or dressed up as) an act of piety?
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:29

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