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Aldingham Motte

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Moat Hill

In the civil parish of Aldingham.
In the historic county of Lancashire.
Modern Authority of Cumbria.
1974 county of Cumbria.
Medieval County of Lancashire North of the Sands.

OS Map Grid Reference: SD27786983
Latitude 54.11952° Longitude -3.10640°

Aldingham Motte has been described as a certain Timber Castle.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


Earthwork remains of a motte and bailey castle. The motte is sub-circular in plan with the south eastern side having been lost to erosion. To the north of the motte is a ditch extending from the south east to the north west with a possible causeway in the centre. Extending to the north east is another ditch. A bank to the west may be a post medieval field boundary utilising aspects of the earlier earthworks. Excavations in 1968 showed that this castle overlay a C12 ringwork, was modified in late C12/early C13 and was abandoned in mid-C13. Aldingham motte is 30ft high with a surrounding ditch 10ft deep on the south side and 8ft deep on the morth, varying from 15 to 20ft wide at the bottom. Some 40yds north of the mound there is a broad straight ditch 250ft long and 18ft wide at the bottom, extending at almost right angles to the sea cliff. (PastScape)

Despite some destruction by the sea, Moat Hill motte and bailey castle and ringwork survives reasonably well and remains largely unencumbered by modern development. Its earthworks in particular remain well preserved. It is a rare example, confirmed by excavation, of a motte and bailey castle which developed from an earlier ringwork. Excavation in 1968 was not total and the monument will retain significant archaeological evidence.
The monument includes the earthwork remains of Moat Hill, the 12th/13th century Aldingham motte and bailey castle, together with the early 12th century ringwork upon which the motte was later built. It is situated on a cliff top on the most prominent headland, other than Humphrey Head, on the northern coast of Morecambe Bay. It includes an earthen mound, the motte, which measures approximately 30m in diameter across its flat summit and stands about 5m high. Surrounding the motte is a substantial ditch 7.5m wide and up to 3m deep. On the seaward side of the monument, coastal erosion has destroyed part of the ditch and mound. To the north and north east of the motte and ditch there is a bailey which is protected by a ditch, now partly infilled, but measuring c.3.7m wide by 3.5m deep on the north east side. Limited excavation of the motte in 1968 as a response to erosion revealed three periods of occupation. The first consisted of an early 12th century ringwork measuring c.40m in diameter which was defended by an earth rampart c.3m high. Later in the 12th century the site was converted into a motte and bailey by infilling and heightening the ringwork to form a motte 4m high and by adding the bailey. In the late 12th/early 13th century the motte was further heightened and defended with a vertical timber revetment. The site appears to have been abandoned in the 13th century probably when the moated site at Moat Farm, which was home to the le Fleming family until they moved to Gleaston Castle, was built. (Scheduling Report)

A three phase site. Initially built as a ringwork, this was filled in to make a slope sided motte and finally an unfinished phase when the mound was a sheer sided timber revetted motte.
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

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Sources of information, references and further reading
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:52

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