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Tickhill Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Tikehilla; Tikehille; Tikehull'; Tikehelle; Tykehall; Tykehull

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

OS Map Grid Reference: SK59329287
Latitude 53.42929° Longitude -1.10867°

Tickhill Castle has been described as a certain Timber Castle, and also as a certain Masonry Castle.

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.
This is a Grade 2* listed building protected by law*.


Tickhill Castle is not mentioned in the Domesday Survey, but the place is covered by the entry for Dadesley. Roger de Bulsi held part of Dadesley Manor and had a castle at Blythe, (Ordericus, xi, ch. iii) later fortified by Robert of Belesme in 1101. The name Blythe was probably used as that of the nearest known town of importance. The castle was besieged and captured in 1101 by royal forces under the Bishop of Lincoln. It was invested and taken by Hugh Pudsey, Bishop of Durham. As a royal castle it was besieged by Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, in 1322, but not taken. A domestic chapel was built for Eleanor of Aquitaine. During the Civil War it was garrisoned for the King and surrendered in 1646 (Illingworth 1970).
Excavation in 1961 showed that the tower was eleven sided and irregularly placed on a circular plinth. There is evidence to suggest it was not a shell keep (Med. Arch 1962-3).
Tickhill Castle House (probably 17th century and perhaps built after the Parliamentary slighting in 1646), possibly incorporates medieval remains (Listed Building Report).
Tickhill was the principal castle of the honour of Blyth, and was forfeited to the Crown after the failure of Robert of Belleme's rebellion in 1102. It was captured by Henry of Anjou in 1153 and retained by Henry when he ascended the throne. During his reign expenditure was granted for the keep and a stone bridge. King John spent heavily on the castle, including the construction of a barbican. although the present barbican is probably a 15th century addition. The castle was intermittently held by the Crown, although granted to the Queen or royal custodians, until the reign of Edward IV (HKW).
A Medieval motte and bailey castle, surrounding moat, curtain wall, gatehouse and other structures, are visible as earthworks and structures on air photographs. They are centred at SK 5934 9285.
The motte is c.66m in diameter with a 23m diameter platform. Around the eastern half there is the visible remains of a moat which is approximately 20m wide. To the west lies the bailey which is surrounded by a curtain wall with associated structures, including a gatehouse and entrance facing west. (PastScape 318964)

The mount, on which the shell keep was situated, is partly a natural knoll of sandstone. It is 75' high and approx. 80' in diameter at the top. Only the foundations of the Keep remain, showing it to have been a ten-sided structure. The Pipe Rolls of 1178 and 1179 show three entries for work on the turns at TICKHILL (Illingworth).
The steep sides of the mound are tree and bush covered. It has been mutilated in the lower reaches by landscape gardening, and terraced paths extend throughout its height.
The foundations of the decagonal keep stand to a height of 0.2 m. above ground level, and are 0.3 m. thick. The buttresses project 0.3 m., and are 0.8 m. wide (F1 RWE 10-FEB-60).
Survey of 10-2-60 revised. The Keep is now shown to be of circular form with the uncovering of its outer wall during the course of a recent, but unscientific excavation by Mr. R. Young (F2 RWE 17-JAN-65). (PastScape 318982)

The original castle was a motte and bailey of considerable size, for the motte is 75 feet high and 80 feet in diameter at the top and the bailey covers two acres. Beyond the massive rampart of the bailey is a deep ditch, which is 30ft wide and still filled with water in its southern and western parts. (South Yorkshire SMR ref. Hey, 1979)

Early Norman motte and bailey with C12 replacement of defences in Stone. Gatehouse, altered in C15 and C16, is of this period, as is keep and curtain wall. Present house, reputedly on site of chapel to St. Nicholas, founded by Eleanor of Aquitaine, is mainly post 1646, when castle dismantled, but is alleged to incorporate portions of the Norman domestic quarters including a round-headed arch. (Magilton)

Situated 200m south-east of St Mary's church and to the east of the south end of Castlegate Road, the castle stands on a knoll of soft sandstone some 15m above sea level on the north bank of the river Torne.
The natural though scarped knoll provides the base of the impressive motte, which is more than 18m high and of similar width across its summit. On top are the foundations of an eleven-sided ashlar faced stone keep on a circular plinth, each of its sides some 5m in length, with each angle covered by a projecting pilaster. The wall of the keep is nearly 3m thick, the entrance being on the south-west. The ditch separating the mound from the courtyard below is now largely infilled.
This more-or-less circular courtyard of over two acres lies on the west side of the mound. A twelfth-century stone curtain wall, 6-9m high and 3-4m thick, encloses the courtyard, resting on an earth embankment rising to over 2m above the internal ground level. The curtain wall ascends two-thirds of the way up the motte on both sides, but much of its eastern side is down.
A fine sturdy gatehouse lies on the south side of the courtyard, projecting beyond the earth embankment of the curtain in both directions. This is essentially a Norman structure, 10m square, with walls more than 2m thick, and a simple non-vaulted tunnel. Substantial later alterations refaced it, adding a fifteenth-century barbican which survives in part, and inserting an Elizabethan window and fireplace.
The whole site was surrounded by a 9m wide, still partly water-filled moat, whose eastern arm has been infilled. On the outer side of the moat there was an earth bank on which parts still exist. A substantial fishpond lies to the east of the castle.
Unlike so many of the South Yorkshire castles, this one is fairly well documented, particularly during the twelfth century when it was in royal hands and was the subject of considerable expenditure, dutifully recorded in the Pipe Rolls. After a break of thirty years it returned to royal hands in 1244, where it remained throughout the medieval period.
A survey of 1538 said the keep was decayed, along with the bakehouse, kitchen, pantry and gatehouse. Leland, about the same time, reported that only an 'old haulle' survived in the courtyard - 'al the buildings within the area be down'. An old print does, however, indicate rather more than this as still existing. Leland was able to report the survival of the keep - 'the dungeon is the fairest part of the castell'.
The remaining parts, including the keep, were largely demolished in 1648. Some limited excavation took place in the early 1960s. (Birch 1981)

The form of the great tower on the motte appears to be, externally, a regular 12 sided polygon, although the more clearly visible interior of the tower is eleven sided. This polygonal tower either surmounts the base of a earlier circular tower, had a circular base or was later consolidated by a circular wall around its base (this, perhaps, rising higher.) Its date is uncertain but a joggled door lintel of identical form to those at Conisborough Castle (c. 1180) has been reused as a fireplace lintel in one of the chambers along the curtain wall and this may have come from the Great Tower.
The gatehouse has a number of Anglo-Saxon architectural details and massively thick walls. The carved figures on the gatehouse are 'are considered of late 11th or early 12th century ornamentation' (The Sheela Na Gig Project) Gatehouse is of the opinion this was started by Roger de Busli in the late C11, probably with the intent of building a gate-tower (or burhgeat) such as at Richmond Castle or Ludlow Castle. This was not finished when his successor, Robert Belleme lost the castle in 1102. Subsequently the focus of the castle moved to the motte and its great tower and the gatehouse, which has been modified on many occasions since, became the relatively simple single chamber over a passage that it is. The dating of the stone curtain wall to a date after the 1102 siege is not unreasonable although these may well have been planned before that date.
N.B. Both Robert de Bulsi and Robert Belesme had numerous estates on both sides of the English Channel. Robert de Bulsi had stayed at the castle (he is said to have married there) and did commission the castle but the details of the design may have been made by a local steward.
Although it is generally suggested this was a castle built on a virgin site it might be considered unlikely that this prominent hill, in an area of what would have been mainly marshland, had no pre-Conquest use. The local Saxon village of Dadesley presumably lay 1.5km North-West, around the Saxon church of All Hallows in the dryer fields but Tickhill may have had some Saxon, possibly high status, use.
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This record last updated 15/08/2017 15:56:47

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