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North Deighton Howe Hill

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

OS Map Grid Reference: SE39395168
Latitude 53.95994° Longitude -1.40093°

North Deighton Howe Hill has been described as a probable Timber Castle, and also as a Masonry Castle although is doubtful that it was such.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


Although the earthworks of the bailey are somewhat degraded, the motte mound of Howe Hill motte and bailey castle still survives in good condition, and retains masonry of the original tower on its summit. Archaeological deposits relating to the original occupation and the configuration of the bailey ditch and bank will also survive intact beneath the ground surface. The monument is thought to be the original site of Spofforth Manor House, given to the Northumberland Percy family at the time of the Norman Conquest. The monument includes a motte and bailey castle situated 250m to the east of Howe Hill Farm. The motte mound survives to a height of up to 20m and has an overall diameter of up to 30m. It is surrounded by a bailey bank which to the south and east survives to a height of up to 0.7m, and is between 2m to 4m wide. Bailey earthworks also survive less clearly to the west of the motte. Masonry of the original tower survives on the summit of the motte, which is reputed to have been the site of the original Spofforth Manor house of the Percy family, given to them at the time of the Norman Conquest. (Scheduling Report)

A steep-sided earthen mound which could equally be a barrow, but either way there is no sign of a quarry ditch around the base. Covered in dense gorse and other vegetation and a major badger sett on the south side - the Field Monument Warden is to speak to English Nature about this. There is a clear area on the east side which has lots of rabbit holes and wild flowers including pignut, cowslips and knapweed. Earthworks to the east within the narrow funnel-shaped field are ambiguous but could be water management? They seem to drain into ditches along the field boundaries. Ridge and furrow comes close in to the base and survives well to the west, together with a marked bank which has been interpreted as a bailey bank but I am dubious about this. The scheduled area seems fairly arbitrary on the ground and ignores these other earthworks. (North Yorkshire HER ref. Smith, L., 2003, pers corr )

David King (1983) record this as 'possible' a term he tended to use for doubtful sites. The site is about 400m from the modern manor house and settlement centre which makes it somewhat isolated but not unlikely a few castle site. There are many burial mounds surviving in the local area and Howe Hill is sometimes identified as a Bronze Age barrow (although this identification may be a confabulation with nearby Green Howe, an excavated barrow). The scheduling report seems elderly and may well be in need of revision. In particular the nature of the 'masonry of the original tower' needs investigation. Certainly this does not seem to have been visible to King or Smith (but the mound is overgrown). The mound is visible from North Deighton Manor House and the masonry may possibly represent some post-medieval landscape eyecatcher.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:20:07

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