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Downhall; The Castles

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Down Hall

In the civil parish of Aikton.
In the historic county of Cumberland.
Modern Authority of Cumbria.
1974 county of Cumbria.
Medieval County of Cumberland.

OS Map Grid Reference: NY28305254
Latitude 54.86249° Longitude -3.11855°

Downhall; The Castles has been described as a probable Timber Castle, and also as a probable Masonry Castle, and also as a certain Fortified Manor House.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


The castle at Downhall, the manorial seat of John de Morville, one of the assassins of St Thomas Becket, was destroyed by the Scots under Bruce, after Bannockburn (Orig NB Aikton 1866 53).
There are no traces of the walls, but the site of the square keep is very distinct (not now traceable). It appears to have been surrounded on three sides by an outer wall, enclosing a bailey on the east side. To the east the remains of the moat are strongly marked. Bulmer mentions a moated platform c100 yards square. He states that when the present buildings were erected in 1826, a portion of the drawbridge was found (Bulmer 1901).
Ferguson states that the Western ditch is now the hollow road leading to the Church. The farm buildings stand on the southern ditch, the east and north ditches are fresh and deep. The outer bailey has been enclosed by a ditch, which, to the north and east is perfect, but obliterated to the south and west. The ditch is 24 yards broad at the top, and has a scarp and counterscarp of about three yards (Ferguson).
'The Castles', Downhall Farm. Comprehensive description of earthworks, history of investigation and account of trial excavation in 1981. The eastern D-shaped enclosure is probably a late 14th century addition to the main platform, thereby suggesting a terminus post quem for the latter. The area to the east of the later enclosure was occupied by at least one building, together with a series of soakaway pits which might have been for some minor industrial use (Bennett et al). (PastScape)
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:53

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