The comprehensive gazetteer and bibliography of the medieval castles, fortifications and palaces of England, Wales, the Islands.
The listings
Other Info
Print Page 
Next Record 
Previous Record 
Back to list 

Bradfield Castle Hill

In the civil parish of Bradfield.
In the historic county of Yorkshire.
Modern Authority of Sheffield.
1974 county of South Yorkshire.
Medieval County of Yorkshire West Riding.

OS Map Grid Reference: SK27109233
Latitude 53.42697° Longitude -1.59357°

Bradfield Castle Hill has been described as a probable Timber Castle, and also as a Masonry Castle although is doubtful that it was such, and also as a Siege Work but is rejected as such.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


At Castle Hill in Hunter's time the remains of a keep were visible, with a ditch round it except on the steep side of the hill (VCH). An elongated motte with circumscribing ditch occupies the northern extremity of the long natural ridge at Castle Hill. The motte, which has an average height of 4.0m, merges with the steep scarp of the ridge in the south. Its sides have been extensively quarried, and the top has been mutilated. No traces of any building foundations are visible. A surrounding ditch has been partially infilled by the quarrying activity. It is best preserved on the northern side where it has a maximum depth of 1.0m. There are no other apparent outworks (Field Investigators Comments–F1 RWE 03-JUL-61).
Listed as a probable ringwork. It is suggested the site could be a siege castle or a predecessor to Bailey Hill (SK 29 SE/12). (Birch, 1981). (PastScape)

The rocky outcrop on the skyline to the east of the church, known as Castle Hill, may have been a natural feature rather than a fortified site, though perhaps it was a simple type of defence known as a ringwork or merely a look-out point. (Hey, 1973)

Known locally as the site of a 'Saxon tower', this probable ringwork lies on a natural level platform midway up the hillside at an altitude of nearly 300m, on the north of the Loxley valley, some 200m south-east of High Bradfield church. The land rises steadily to the north- east of the earthwork, but drops away steeply to the west and south. A spring, which could have fed the now dry moat, is located a little further uphill to the north.
The existing remains consist of a small, oval earthwork embankment rising up some 4 m above the bottom of the moat which embraces it to the north, west and south. The rampart and ditch are badly damaged to the south-east - apparently the result of quarrying. Remains of a masonry tower or keep were reported by Hunter (1819), but these are now completely grass covered.
In commanding the main approach to the village and hence the Bailey Hill motte-and-bailey castle near the church, this could conceivably represent a siege castle. Alternatively, it could simply be an earlier site for the castle. As yet, however, it has not been excavated, and nothing appears to be recorded of its history or destruction. (Birch 1981)

Castle Hill. This is less perfect than Bailey Hill; but the remains of a keep are visible, surrounded by a ditch, except on the steep side of the hill, where a ditch was not necessary; and on the slope of the hill there is an appearance of an intrenchment. ... The indications of artificial work at Castle Hill are very faint. These note were made on the spot in July 1826. (Hunter 1819)

This area has never been subject to ploughing or intense agriculture. There is no reason to feel this 'earthwork' would have been subject to greater erosion than Bailey Hill. It was slight in 1826 and probably slight in 1200. It has, however, been subject to much small quarrying of the sort required for the local stone field walls. The southern side may have been more systematically quarried. On low resolution air photos there does appear to be a ring feature around the hill top but on higher resolution air photos this apparent feature disappears and nothing that is clearly not natural can be made out. However this apparent feature does seem to represent something on the ground, since it occurs in early OS maps but this appears to be natural plus a few disconnected quarry trenches plus sheep track following contour lines. The nature of the supposed 'keep' reported in Hunter is unclear. Some authors seem to have assumed this was a masonry building but when Hunter was writing archaeological nomenclature was no standardised and various terms, including keep, were used for what C20 writers call a motte and therefore this need not necessarily refer to a stonework. This is clearly not a siege work, nor is its form or location likely to be that of a predecessor site. The field just to the north of Castle Hill is called Castle Fields on the OS map. The field to the east of that is marked 'Vicar of Ecclesfield for tithes' on the tithe award map - in other parishes with less complex church holdings such a field would have been called Church Field and it may be Castle Field was the demense holding of the Bailey Hill castle. It is, therefore, possibly that Castle Hill was originally "the hill in Castle Field" with no suggestion of it being an actual castle site. The name, having been shortened at some early date, and the slight but suggestive natural contours of the hill then leading to rather fanciful suggestions of a castle here. Alternatively this hill, which is very prominent when viewed from the village, was the centre for children's play for generations. Clearly some further investigation on the ground, probably including excavation, is required here. (Philip Davis personal comments and observations 2011)

Although Gatehouse feels this is a natural hill, modified by some small quarries, the site is scheduled as a motte and bailey so this record maintains this as a 'possible' site. However, others I have discussed the site with are more convinced of this being the site of some sort of medieval building possible a hunting viewing platform.
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

Data >
PastScape   County HER   Scheduling        
Maps >
Streetmap   NLS maps   Where's the path   Old-Maps      
Data/Maps > 
Magic   V. O. B.   Geology   LiDAR   Open Domesday  
Air Photos > 
Bing Maps   Google Maps   Getmapping   ZoomEarth      
Photos >
CastleFacts   Geograph   Flickr   Panoramio      

Sources of information, references and further reading
Most of the sites or buildings recorded in this web site are NOT open to the public and permission to visit a site must always be sought from the landowner or tenant.
It is an offence to disturb a Scheduled Monument without consent. It is a destruction of everyone's heritage to remove archaeological evidence from ANY site without proper recording and reporting.
Don't use metal detectors on historic sites without authorisation.
The information on this web page may be derived from information compiled by and/or copyright of Historic England, County Historic Environment Records and other individuals and organisations. It may also contain information licensed under the Open Government Licence. All the sources given should be consulted to identify the original copyright holder and permission obtained from them before use of the information on this site for commercial purposes.
The author and compiler of Gatehouse does not receive any income from the site and funds it himself. The information within this site is provided freely for educational purposes only.
The bibliography owes much to various bibliographies produced by John Kenyon for the Council for British Archaeology, the Castle Studies Group and others.
Suggestions for finding online and/or hard copies of bibliographical sources can be seen at this link.
Minor archaeological investigations, such as watching brief reports, and some other 'grey' literature is most likely to be held by H.E.R.s but is often poorly referenced and is unlikely to be recorded here, or elsewhere, but some suggestions can be found here.
The possible site or monument is represented on maps as a point location. This is a guide only. It should be noted that OS grid references defines an area, not a point location. In practice this means the actual center of the site or monument may often, but not always, be to the North East of the point shown. Locations derived from OS grid references and from latitude longitiude may differ by a small distance.
Further information on mapping and location can be seen at this link.
Please help to make this as useful a resource as possible by contacting Gatehouse if you see errors, can add information or have suggestions for improvements in functality and design.
Help is acknowledged.
This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:20:08

Home | Books | Links | Fortifications and Castles | Other Information | Help | Downloads | Author Information | Contact