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Sherburn in Elmet Castle Hill

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;

In the civil parish of Sherburn in Elmet.
In the historic county of Yorkshire.
Modern Authority of North Yorkshire.
1974 county of North Yorkshire.
Medieval County of Yorkshire West Riding.

OS Map Grid Reference: SE53073332
Latitude 53.79342° Longitude -1.19533°

Sherburn in Elmet Castle Hill has been described as a Timber Castle although is doubtful that it was such.

There are cropmark/slight earthwork remains.


Embanked enclosure measuring 47m by 25m seen on aerial photographs of 1967. Suggested on the basis of documentary sources to be the possible site of a medieval castle. There is no archaeological evidence to assign this monument to a particular period and the earthworks may be largely spoil from drain clearance. (PastScape summary)

Robert de Greneway is associated with grants of land in Abbeholm (a) in 1228 referring to "Castell-toft". At the confluence of "Greendyke" and Selby Dam there is a spot still called Castle Hill. The reason of its existence I cannot explain. This however, is no doubt the land referred to as "Castell toft". At the time of the enclosure of Rest Park in 1222 some portion of Rest Park belonged to the .. manor of Abbholm." (Wheater).
In 1383 Archbishop Alexander Neville was granted a licence to embattle his manor of Rest and erect a fortlet there Castle Hill may be the site of the 'fortlet' mentioned in the above licence. It is sited in Rust Park about 1/2 west of the Manor House. If the association of Castle Hill with Castle-toft, 1228, is correct, it is difficult to see the connection with the fortlet of 1383 (Thompson).
The remains of an earthwork situated 25 ft. above sea level upon a flat plain. In construction the work appears to have originally consisted of a broad rampart with accompanying external ditch, however, farming and the construction of a cart track have greatly mutilated the whole, and extant features now remain only of a spread bank with, on the north and south faces, a slight ditch. The best preserved portion of the work is at the north-eastern corner where the features are more pronounced than elsewhere. No indications could be found of an internal structure, nor could an original entrance be determined. There is an ample local water supply. No conclusions could be drawn as to the purpose of the work or its period of construction. The feature formerly published as forming a portion of this antiquity i.e. west of the drainage ditch is in fact spoil from consecutive ditch clearings (F2 FDC 20-JUL-59).
Castle Hill must be the Swythemund-'burnt mound or embankment' mentioned in 1283 and 1304 which suggests that an old habitation was burnt down. The name was afterwards used for the more northerly farmstead at North Sweeming mentioned as Northswymond in 1509 (Smith).
The embanked enclosure recorded by the previous Authorities is visible as an earthwork on vertical photographs, dated 1967. Internally the enclosure has dimensions of 47 m by 25 m. The enclosure is approximately rectilinear, the north-east and south-east corners are slightly rounded; the other two corners have probably altered in character because of the trackway which now crosses the enclosure, close to the western end. Later photography suggests the enclosure is now levelled and seen as a soil mark. The ordinance survey record card for this site notes early antiquarian speculation that it is the remains of a twelfth century motte castle linked to some contemporary documentary references. The record card ends with an OS Surveyor's field note that it is in fact largely spoil from drain clearance. A medieval date for the site is considered to be unlikely and even if the site is the remains of a motte castle, it has been so badly truncated by a farm track that it is unlikey to qualify for scheduling due to its poor survival. (PastScape)

On the 1850 OS map this mound has unusual elongated D shape divided by small brook. The identification of the recorded 'castle toft' with this earthwork is speculative and that place-name may well refer to a field in the demesne of the manor house in the village (Hall Garth).
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:20:07

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