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Barton upon Humber Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Castle Dyke South; Tyrwhitt Hall

In the civil parish of Barton upon Humber.
In the historic county of Lincolnshire.
Modern Authority of North Lincolnshire.
1974 county of Humberside.
Medieval County of Lincolnshire.

OS Map Grid Reference: TA03532193
Latitude 53.68364° Longitude -0.43362°

Barton upon Humber Castle has been described as a probable Timber Castle.

There are no visible remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


TA 0321 2179. Probable site of Barton Castle, built between 1142 and 1147. No trace now. (Annotated Record Map Corr 6" (C.W. Phillips 20.4.1931))
There is a reference in a charter in the Cotton MSS confirming certain grants at Barton to Bardney Abbey '..when the Castle was built in the same vill...'. It appears to have been surrounded by a rampart and ditch (Ball 1856).
There are no surface indications nor local knowledge to substantiate the suggested site of this former castle which is overlooked by higher ground to the south-west. A topographically better site would be at, or near, TA 0310 2165 which commands an extensive outlook in all directions (Field Investigators Comments F1 FDC 13-MAR-63). (PastScape)

References in a charter by Earl Syman (dated to 1156-61) and in another by Robert de Gaunt (dated to 1186-90) refer to a castle built at Barton by Earl Gilbert (d. 1156). Brown suggests site at TA 0320 2180, CW Phillips at TA 0322 2179, and Ordnance Survey at TA 0310 2165. No finds or surviving traces to substantiate any of these sites. (Brown 1906, 30, 98-99, fig. 4; 1908, 5; CWP/OSSI). (Loughlin and Miller)
'Barton Castle, recorded as having been built in the 1140s by the lord of Barton, Gilbert de Gant, is an example of those castles hastily constructed in the anarchy of Stephen's reign to protect estates and exert pressure on neighbours. In this case the neighbour was the powerful Count of Aumale, with whom de Gant was on unfriendly terms in the 1140s, and it is likely that his castle was a response to Aumale's at Barrow Haven, which was probably re-fortified at this time. The castle at Barton was short-lived (de Gant was on the losing side in the civil war, and the castle would have been deliberately destroyed). Its location has always been disputed, and a site on the southern hillside overlooking the town has usually been favoured, but the discovery, during excavations at St Peter's church in 1981, of a massive and short-lived twelfth century ditch between the church and Tyrwhitt Hall, suggests that the castle lay here, on a low spur at the marshland edge, overlooking a former tidal creek, and that it probably had a low motte, like Barrow's, within a large oval bailey which re-used the earthworks of an earlier Saxon defended enclosure. A short distance to the east was a section of the town ditch, the Castle Dikes, which were also probably created by de Gant at this time. For a while the two castles at Barrow and Barton would have faced each other across the marshes, vying for control of the important Humber crossings Although Barton castle was later removed, the position of the oval defended 'bailey', marked by a ring of roads following the former ditch, persisted as a prominent feature of the local topography until the nineteenth century, and still survives in part on the north and west sides.' (Ellis et aL 2001). (North Lincolnshire HER)

Papal Bull of 1147 makes reference to the presence in Barton of 'a mansion outside the castle' which belonged to Bardney Abbey. Where was Barton's castle, when was it built and how long did it survive? There is no post 13th century reference to Barton Castle, so it would appear that it was almost certainly a creation of the 12th century and was likely to have been an earth and timber structure all long gone. William Smith Hesleden's account of the History of Barton, written in the 1850s hypothesised that it stood on the site of what is now the Old Mill Inn and Restaurant beside the Market Place. The extensive excavations carried out on the pagan Anglo-Saxon cemetery in that area revealed no sign of a medieval fortifications and it now seems more likely that the massive ditch recently found immediately to the east of the chancel of St. Peter's church is likely to be part of the outer defences of Barton's castle. Such ephemeral castles here today and gone tomorrow were a feature of the period of Stephen's anarchy in the 1140s. (History of Barton website)

A further selection of the middle Saxon enclosure ditch around the manor house was examined (ibid. XXVI (1982), 186), and it was shown that the first cemetery was established outside that enclosure (i.e. to the W.) in or by the 9th century. In the late 10th century, when the first known church on the site was erected, a new boundary ditch to the cemetery was dug further E., the silted-up earlier enclosure ditch having been used to contain burials. In the 12th century, the eastward extension of the church caused the boundary between it and the manor house to be pushed further E. again. A short-lived earthwork defence around the manorial complex was discovered, which included a ditch estimated as c. 5 m deep and c. 12m wide; it could not be fully sectioned in the area available. This newly discovered defensive circuit may be equated with the enigmatic Barton castle, although its traditional site is adjacent to the market place. In the 13th century the manorial ditch was replaced by a timber palisade, and the extension of the chancel yet again brought the church hard up against the W. side of this structure. The boundary in turn was moved further E. to its present position, where a medieval stone wall had been superseded by a later brick wall. In the 15th century the E. wall of the chancel subsided into the backfilled Norman ditch below and had to be partially rebuilt, and in the 19th century the NE. vestry did likewise. (Med. Arch. 1984)

Preconceived ideas on castle locations (on hills with clear views) and dates (after 1066 and favouring the Anarchy) have effected the understanding of this historically documented castle. In fact this may be a quite typical castle in that it was a reconstruction and strengthening of an existing Saxon thegnal burh. The traditional site, beside the market, is not the castle site, but might represent the site of a slightly later manorial court house. Michael Shapland states the early C11 tower of St Peter's church originated as a free-standing tower-nave private chapel on the edge of the thegnal enclosure and while not defensive certainly symbolised lordly power.
It would be nice to know the age of the street name Castle Dyke South although this may well refer to possible town defences.
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This record last updated 15/08/2017 15:56:49

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