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Middleham Williams Hill

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Sunskew Park

In the civil parish of Middleham.
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: SE12508725
Latitude 54.28074° Longitude -1.80950°

Middleham Williams Hill has been described as a certain Timber Castle.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


William's Hill. A motte and bailey castle, the motte and inner bailey being well preserved, while the outer bailey survives only as a long strip with weak defences following the ridge to the E. The motte is sub-rectangular in shape with a broadened NW angle, its scarps rising to 60 ft above wide, deep ditches (Alcroft).
William's Hill, A small but strong motte and bailey castle admirably sited to dominate both Wensleydale and Coverdale, and the ancient road from Richmond to Skipton. It was built early in the reign of William Rufus and was superseded by the late Norman castle (SE 18 NW 2) soon after 1180. The summit of the motte is about 160 by 115 ft and 40 ft in height, defended by a strong ditch 20 ft wide with counterscarp banks 9 ft deep. The NW end of the motte expands to form a platform with a base of 112 ft and a width of 55 ft, evidently the site of a wooden tower. To the SE of this platform the motte is hollowed to a small sunken court, 85 by 55 ft, which may have held the great hall of the castle. A small bean-shaped bailey, 1/2 acre in area, lies to the SE. Its rampart is still 13 ft in height above a partly water-filled ditch, with an entrance gap to the ESE. This is guarded by an outwork of triple banks now in poor condition (l'Anson).
At William's Hill, a big powerful ringwork, the bank is so enormously thick at one point - 45 ft/14m across the top - as to suggest that the ring was formed by earthing up a small motte and bailey level with the top of its motte all round (King and Alcock). There is no outer bailey to the ringwork, and Allcroft's portrayal of one is based on modern field banks, and in error. I'Anson's interpretation, however, of the triple cross ridge banks to the SE as a defensive outwork to the main approach is undoubtedly correct (Field Investigators Comments–F1 BHP 07-NOV-74). (PastScape)

Situation: The site lies on an east-west ridge-top position of natural strength, south of the village of Malton. Its sucessor lies c. 300m to the north.
Preservation: The earthwork is well preserved under pasture and scrub.
Description: The site has sometimes been classified as a motte and bailey, and indeed the platform on the north-west side of the ringwork could have served as a virtual motte, although the strength of the site is in its enclosing ramparts, and it is hence classified as a ringwork. The earthwork comprises an oval ringwork with base dimensions of c. 70m east-west x 55m north-south, defended by a surrounding bank surviving to a maximum height of c. 1.7m, with a gap to the south-east representing the original entrance. To the north-west of the ringwork the rampart widens to form a triangular platform, c. 20m x 10m, forming the probable base for a tower. The ringwork work is entirely surrounded by a periodically wet ditch up to 5m wide with external counterscarp banks up to c. 2m high. The ditch is crossed on the south-east side by an earthwork causeway linking it to a single, D-shaped bailey measuring c. 25m x 65m. The bailey is surrounded by a ditch which is linked to that surrounding the ringwork, and is defended on all sides other that facing the motte by a rampart surviving to a height of c. lm. A gap in the bank in south-east comer represents the original entrance. A possible outwork is represented by a linear earthwork running along the summit of the ridge, east of the bailey. (Creighton 1998)
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:20:09

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