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Easby Castle Hill

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Easby near Stokesley; Borough Green

In the civil parish of Easby.
In the historic county of Yorkshire.
Modern Authority of North Yorkshire.
1974 county of North Yorkshire.
Medieval County of Yorkshire North Riding.

OS Map Grid Reference: NZ58980848
Latitude 54.46827° Longitude -1.09149°

Easby Castle Hill has been described as a probable Timber Castle.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


Norman motte castle, situated on a bluff east of the village of Easby on the edge of the North York Moors; it lies at the southern edge of the bluff, at the top of an almost vertical, 60m high scarp overlooking the River Leven and affording an excellent vantage point with commanding views of the surrounding countryside. The motte is a horseshoe shaped mound, 45m across, being 2.5m high on the northern side but less than 2m high at the edge of the bluff, where the stronghold will have been less vulnerable to attack. The top of the motte is slightly hollowed, sloping gently to the south, and three small disturbed areas mark the location of excavation trenches opened by Howell in 1903. The southern edge of the motte is formed by the precipitous natural scarp but elsewhere a 5m wide ditch surrounds it; the northern arm of the ditch has silted up over the years, being visible only as a slight depression at the base of the mound, although where it runs to the edge of the bluff the ditch is 1m deep. The castle had timber defences; Howell's trial excavations found no evidence of stone structures. The construction of the motte is attributed to Bernhard Balliol, Lord of the manor of Easby during the civil wars of the 12th century, and its remote location suggests that it served as a watch-tower or temporary refuge in time of strife. (Scheduling Report)

Castle Hill, Easby visited 4th Jan 1959. "It is not a normal motte and bailey, but an enclosure - horse shoe shaped, just over 100ft on the three sides. The ditch is 12 to 15ft wide. The site of Rev. Howell's dig in 1903 is still visible - a trial pit it seems, and it produced only a flint scraper at 4ft ... the bank is 10ft high at this point ...' (staff comments). This earthwork represents the remains of a small motte devoid of a bailey. It is defended on the south east by natural slopes, and elsewhere by a ditch the remains of which are visible only at the two points at which the ditch merges into the natural decline. The general slope of the mound, and a hollowing of the centre towards the edge of the declivity, suggests that the landslip has resulted in a collapse of the motte. This erosion has left the motte in such a form as to be incorrectly described by Hayes as an enclosure. The measurements given are, however, reasonably correct (Field Investigators Comments–F1 ECW 28-JUN-62). Probably adulterine motte at Castle Hill possibly erected by Bernard de Balliol, lord of the manor of Easby. The motte, now much mutilated, was dug into at the centre "some years ago", but nothing was found. (l'Anson, 1913) (PastScape)

The scheduling report and National Monument record contain much received wisdom and speculation based on ideas of castles which have now been questioned. The site is isolated, of no strategic or economic value and does not have a bailey. There is no historical evidence of activity in this area during the Anarchy (although the contemporary chronicle reports have a South West bias). It is located near to and possibly within the park of Easby Hall to the West and there are Park place-names to the East. Re-examination of this site by castle studies and medieval park experts should be done as this may actually be a mound associated with hunting.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:20:06

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