The comprehensive gazetteer and bibliography of the medieval castles, fortifications and palaces of England, Wales, the Islands.
The listings
Other Info
Print Page 
Next Record 
Previous Record 
Back to list 

Wollaston Beacon Hill

In the civil parish of Wollaston.
In the historic county of Northamptonshire and the Soke of Peterborough.
Modern Authority of Northamptonshire.
1974 county of Northamptonshire.
Medieval County of Northamptonshire.

OS Map Grid Reference: SP90856294
Latitude 52.25707° Longitude -0.67044°

Wollaston Beacon Hill has been described as a certain Timber Castle, and also as a probable Masonry Castle.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


Beacon Hill is a well preserved example of a motte castle lying at the heart of an existing village. Although partially excavated, the site demonstrates high potential for the survival of structural evidence of the 12th century castle and its immediate precursor. The substantial ditch to the south is in excellent condition and will retain contemporaneous environmental evidence.
Beacon Hill motte castle lies in the centre of the village of Wollaston, just to the south of the church. The conical mound of the motte is over 6m high, with a base diameter of approximately 60m and a flat summit about 24m across. The motte ditch is still apparent on the south side and, during small scale excavations in 1961-2, the ditch was found to be up to 3.5m deep. Pottery of the 12th century was also discovered, together with the remains of a 12th century stone building which stood on the summit. This building is considered to be the remains of an early stone castle, which was destroyed soon after it was built, and traces of an even earlier structure were found beneath it. It is also known that a post mill was sited on the motte in the 13th to 15th centuries. There is no record of a bailey being attached to the castle but this may have been destroyed by later building on the site. (Scheduling Report)

Motte (SP 90856293; Fig. 161), known as Beacon Hill, in the centre of the village, 150 m. S. of the church, on Great Oolite Limestone at 76 m. above OD. In the 18th century it was also known as Mill Hill. It consists of an oval mound, 50 m. across from E. to W. and 60 m. across from N. to S., 5 m. high, with a flat top 25 m.–35 m. in diam. There are traces of a ditch on the S. side. There are no earthworks to indicate a bailey but a curving building-line of existing houses on the N. side of the mound, shown more clearly on a map of 1774, (NRO) before modern alterations, suggests the former presence of a small bailey not more than 30 m. across at its widest point. The mound was excavated in 1961–2 when a stone building, dated to the 12th century, was discovered on the summit. This was apparently destroyed soon after construction. Traces of an earlier structure were found under the mound. In the 13th century a post mill was erected on the summit (Whellan, Dir., 431; J. Bridges, Hist of Northants., II (1791), 199; VCH Northants., IV (1937), 58; Med. Arch., 14 (1970), 176). (RCHME)

Northamptonshire : Wollaston (SP908629). A motte-like mound called Beacon Hill was investigated in 1961-2 by H. N. Hall and N. Nickerson. In the latest (12th century) stage a stone building, destroyed soon after construction, stood or top. The evidence is consistent with the mound being part of an 'anarchy castle'. An earlier compacted earthwork was found. In the 13th century a post-mill was erected on top. A section of the ditch and a fuller account will be given in J. Wolverton and Dist. Archaeol. Soc., IV (1971). (Med. Arch. 1970)

What was the form of the 'stone building' found in 1961-2? Was this a small square tower such as found recently at Newnham, Kent or Radcot, Oxfordshire? Whilst the 1069's investigation dated this stone building as C12 and suggested this was an 'anarchy castle' it may well be the motte was constructed shortly post-Conquest since it would be unwise to build a masonry building on a mound which had not had a long period to stabilize.
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

Data >
PastScape       Scheduling        
Maps >
Streetmap   NLS maps   Where's the path   Old-Maps      
Data/Maps > 
Magic   V. O. B.   Geology   LiDAR   Open Domesday  
Air Photos > 
Bing Maps   Google Maps   Getmapping   ZoomEarth      
Photos >
CastleFacts   Geograph   Flickr   Panoramio      

Sources of information, references and further reading
Most of the sites or buildings recorded in this web site are NOT open to the public and permission to visit a site must always be sought from the landowner or tenant.
It is an offence to disturb a Scheduled Monument without consent. It is a destruction of everyone's heritage to remove archaeological evidence from ANY site without proper recording and reporting.
Don't use metal detectors on historic sites without authorisation.
The information on this web page may be derived from information compiled by and/or copyright of Historic England, County Historic Environment Records and other individuals and organisations. It may also contain information licensed under the Open Government Licence. All the sources given should be consulted to identify the original copyright holder and permission obtained from them before use of the information on this site for commercial purposes.
The author and compiler of Gatehouse does not receive any income from the site and funds it himself. The information within this site is provided freely for educational purposes only.
The bibliography owes much to various bibliographies produced by John Kenyon for the Council for British Archaeology, the Castle Studies Group and others.
Suggestions for finding online and/or hard copies of bibliographical sources can be seen at this link.
Minor archaeological investigations, such as watching brief reports, and some other 'grey' literature is most likely to be held by H.E.R.s but is often poorly referenced and is unlikely to be recorded here, or elsewhere, but some suggestions can be found here.
The possible site or monument is represented on maps as a point location. This is a guide only. It should be noted that OS grid references defines an area, not a point location. In practice this means the actual center of the site or monument may often, but not always, be to the North East of the point shown. Locations derived from OS grid references and from latitude longitiude may differ by a small distance.
Further information on mapping and location can be seen at this link.
Please help to make this as useful a resource as possible by contacting Gatehouse if you see errors, can add information or have suggestions for improvements in functality and design.
Help is acknowledged.
This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:02

Home | Books | Links | Fortifications and Castles | Other Information | Help | Downloads | Author Information | Contact