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Gilling Castle–Gilling West near Richmond

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Castle Hill; Scales Farm; Low Scales

In the civil parish of Gilling With Hartforth And Sedbury.
In the historic county of Yorkshire.
Modern Authority of North Yorkshire.
1974 county of North Yorkshire.
Medieval County of Yorkshire North Riding.

OS Map Grid Reference: NZ16390425
Latitude 54.43341° Longitude -1.74883°

Gilling Castle–Gilling West near Richmond has been described as a probable Timber Castle.

There are no visible remains.


Site of "Gilling Castle" the seat of Edwin, Earl of Mercia. The main period of occupation was over by C12. The last traces were removed at the beginning of C19. No visible remains. (PastScape)

Gilling was, however, the chief seat of Edwin Earl of Mercia, and possibly for a time the head of the castlery ( castellaria ) of Count Alan, though the day of its greatness was already over in the 12th century; this stronghold may have stood on 'Castle Hill.' (Longstaffe, Richmondshire (1852), 119. Raine denies that there is either 'recollection or tradition' of this ( Saint Cuthbert, 8 n.).)
GILLING, which passed at the Conquest from the Saxon Earl Edwin to Count Alan, was at the time of the Domesday Survey the chief manor in the district afterwards called Richmondshire. Count Alan held the vill of 4 carucates in demesne. The berewicks of Hartforth, Newton, the two Cowtons, Eryholme, Hale, Stapleton, Forcett and Barforth and the soke of Moulton, Barton, Eppleby, Cliff, Carlton, Barforth, Ovington, Girlington, Wycliffe, Thorp, Mortham, Egglestone, Brignall, Scargill, Barningham, East and West Layton, Manfield, Hutton and Stanwick were appurtenant to this manor. Count Alan had a 'castlery' of 199 'manors'—Gilling perhaps the head—but he soon made Richmond his chief seat and the head of his honour. Gilling lost all its old importance, but continued to be held by the lords of Richmond in demesne until the attainder of Richard Earl of Warwick. (VCH)

The VCH (and their quoted source Raine) are right to cast doubt on 'Castle Hill' as the location of Edwin's Hall as it is an isolated site 2km from the church. Castle Hill was an earthwork with reports of stonework, although nothing now exists (although LiDAR images may be suggestive and archaeological investigation might reveal more), but it was in the park of Aske Hall and it may have been a landscaping feature, or small farmstead, with a fanciful history suggested from the known records. A location in the village may be considered more likely although no specific site is identified.
Clark's reference to a motte is dismissed by Armitage. However, it is not possible to entirely dismiss Edwin's Hall as the first castle of Earl Alan before he built Richmond. In fact it would be typical for a castle to be built on the previous high status Saxon site (since Edwin held the manor until 1071 it may even have been a post-Conquest 'Saxon' castle). Camden's interpretation of earlier documents that Alan built a castle at Gilling can not be entirely dismissed, as it was by Armitage. What is clear from these early documents is that Earl Alan was fearful of attacks and that his castle at Richmond] was built for reasons which did include major concerns about defence.
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This record last updated 15/08/2017 15:56:49

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