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Goltho Manor

In the civil parish of Goltho.
In the historic county of Lincolnshire.
Modern Authority of Lincolnshire.
1974 county of Lincolnshire.
Medieval County of Lincolnshire.

OS Map Grid Reference: TF11597739
Latitude 53.28214° Longitude -0.32722°

Goltho Manor has been described as a certain Timber Castle.

There are cropmark/slight earthwork remains.


Early medieval settlement, motte and bailey, and medieval village consisting of a moat, and crofts with buildings, seen as cropmarks and earthworks. Excavation revealed an early medieval ringwork and medieval motte and tower. Roman features have been recorded separately (TF 17 NW 37). The motte and bailey has been levelled and the site cultivated. (PastScape)

The chronology of the site has been given as follows: A Romano-British settlement of late 1st and 2nd century date, including a substantial Roman building. An unenclosed settlement of middle Saxon date, including timber and clay buildings, predated the development of a serise of fortified enclosures. A stave-built hall, bower, kitchen and weaving shed were constructed around 850, surrounded by a defensive rampart and ditch. A sequence of rebuildings was followed by a replanning in the period around 1000-1080 within a larger enclosure, again surrounded by a rampart and ditch. Around 1080 a motte and bailey castle was constructed.
The motte lay in the north east of a rectangular earthwork enclosed with a gatehouse and a bridge located to the east side. Two successive single-aisled halls of clay with vertical posts provided domestic accomodation. In the mid 12th century the bailey banks were pulled in to create a flat-topped mound for a timber aisled hall and ancillary buildings which was adandoned shortly afterwards. By the mid-12th century the manor is believed to have been in the hands of the Kyme family.
Aerial photographs show the site both before and after it was levelled with the ditch showing as a cropmark following the destruction of the site. The site of the motte and bailey was formerly contained within a scheduled area including the earthwork remains of the medieval settlement. The whole site was descheduled in 1982. (PastScape–ref. Drury, D. 14-SEP-1998 English Heritage Alternative Action Report)

Situation: The castle/manor site lay on a thin, slightly elevated, lens of sand in the south-east comer of the former earthworks of Goltho DMV; both occupy a low-lying clayland site.
Preservation: The excavations of the manor and DMV took place in anticipation of agricultural clearance; this has eradicated all traces of manorial and village earthworks.
Description: Prior to excavation, the site comprised a low mound of squarish plan, c . 48m across. The feature was entirely surrounded by a shallow yet wide ditch with a maximum width of c . 16m and similarly square plan, although the churchyard cut through part of the north-east comer. A low bank and second minor ditch stood external to the ditch on the south and east sides, the southern element projecting further west to partially define an oval enclosure - presumably a former bailey - extending c . 28m beyond the line of the ditch.
Excavation: The site was extensively excavated by G. Beresford between 1971-74, establishing a remarkable sequence of occupation, although the precise dating of the phases has remained a subject for debate. The dates given below follow Beresford’s chronology:
Phase I (c. AD 50-200): Romano-British occupation, comprising a sequence of three circular houses.
Phase II (c. 800-850): A middle Saxon settlement of timber and clay houses standing within large earthwork enclosures fronting on to a street.
Phase III (c. 850-950): A large, fortified oval enclosure containing a complex of timber buildings interpreted as a bow-sided hall, weaving shed, kitchen and bower.
Phase IV (c. 950-1000): A rebuilt complex of timber buildings, enclosed within an unchanged fortification.
Phase V (c. 1000-1080): Reconstruction of the timber buildings within a fortified egg-shaped enclosure of increased size and strength.
Phase VI (c. 1080-1150): A small timber-revetted motte with timber tower was raised in the north-east comer of the enclosure, forming a single bailey containing a small hall.
Phase VII (c. 1150): The bailey was filled in and the motte and ramparts lowered to form a large flat castle mound supporting a large aisled hall.
Re-assessments of Beresford’s dating have focussed on the Period 3 complex, suggesting that analysis of the ceramics assemblage as opposed to the historical logic employed by the excavator as a dating aid suggest a probable 10th-century date for this phase of the site, with the implication that subsequent phases may be dated too early.
Documentation: The castle site is not mentioned specifically in contemporary documentation; the alleged connection with the Kyme family is based wholly on the circumstantial evidence of manorial descent. (Creighton 1998)

Paul Everson suggests that the finds and documentary evidence supports a later dating - at the earliest in the late 1130s; with a possible enforced slighting of the earthworks in c. 1217 (Lincolnshire HER)

This is a site than has undergone a rare extensive and detailed excavation and was found to have had a complex history. This started as a Saxon defended manorial site and had the earthworks modified on several occasions (and timber buildings rebuilt) including use as a Norman castle. The excavation of this site was utterly destructive turning what looked to be a straightforward motte and bailey into a cropmark, undetectable on the ground. However without such an intense excavation the earlier Anglo-Saxon manor and the development of the site from a Ringwork to a Motte and Bailey is unlikely to have been understood or even known. One of the most important sites in castle studies but, as can be seen by the limited online information, one little known outside academic fields.
There has been some considerable discussion as to the dating of the various phases suggested by Beresford. The issue does not seem to be settled although, at this time (2015) it seems Beresford's initial phasing seems to be back in favour.
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

Data >
PastScape   County HER   Descheduled        
Maps >
Streetmap   NLS maps   Where's the path   Old-Maps      
Data/Maps > 
Magic   V. O. B.   Geology   LiDAR   Open Domesday  
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This record last updated 15/08/2017 15:56:49

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