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 

Bradfield Bailey Hill

In the civil parish of Bradfield.
In the historic county of Yorkshire.
Modern Authority of Sheffield.
1974 county of South Yorkshire.
Medieval County of Yorkshire West Riding.

OS Map Grid Reference: SK26629268
Latitude 53.43024° Longitude -1.60081°

Bradfield Bailey Hill has been described as a certain Timber Castle.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


Bailey Hill is a fine motte 60 ft high; the top has been mutilated and is now very narrow, but in Bowman's time it was 12 yds in diameter. The bailey covers about three quarters of an acre; it is placed on the edge of a steep slope, and appears to have trusted to a stockade on this side, but on the south side there is a lofty bank on the scarp, 30 ft high; and a ditch from 20 to 30 ft broad once surrounded the entire motte (VCH). Bailey Hill occupies a good defensive position on a plateau overlooking the low ground to the south and east. The steepsided motte is 10.5m in height. It has been extensively mutilated on the southern side to provide access to the top. The top shows some stone content, but nothing identifiable as the remains of foundations. Mutilation has also occured on the eastern side of the counterscarp to the circumscribing ditch. This has an average depth of 3m on the north side, and 1.5m elsewhere. A modern causeway occurs in the north west. The only defensive earthwork visible on the vulnerable northern side of the bailey is the remains of a bank 0.5 high now forming a field boundary. This bank links the steep natural scarp in the west with the ditch surrounding the motte, and probably forms the base of the stockade indicated by OS. In the south of the bailey, the rampart has an average height of 4m, and its associated ditch is 2.5m deep. There is no obvious approach to the site (Field Investigators Comments-F1 RWE 03-JUL-61). (PastScape)

Believed to be a 12th century castle of the de Furnivals, the monument comprises a motte c.18m high whose summit has been disturbed by amateur excavation, leaving it crescent shaped in plan. During excavations in 1720, squared tool-marked stones were found which have been interpreted as the foundations of a tower. A deep, steep-sided ditch c.9m wide circles the motte to the north and extends southward along the east flank of the monument, following the south-westward curve of a substantial 8m wide rampart. At its northern end, the rampart stops just short of the motte. At its southern end, it curves round to meet the edge of the sharp drop down into the valley of Rocher End Brook. This scarp forms a natural western defence to a small semi- circular bailey measuring c.15m x 30m, though it is likely this edge was also palisaded. A low bank running between the scarp and the motte ditch at the northern end of the bailey is all that survives of another section of rampart. A causeway across the motte ditch just south of this was a point of access to the motte from the bailey. Access to the bailey seems to have been from the south-west or, alternatively, from the east across the outer ditch, where a route up from the village and church would have passed through the gap between motte and rampart. A ditch also divides the bailey from the east rampart. (Scheduling Report)

This motte-and-bailey castle lies in a lofty, wooded position on the edge of a rocky precipice to the north-west of the churchyard at High Bradfield, with extensive views over the Loxley valley, ranging from the north-west, through south to the south-east. To the north-east the land rises gently uphill.
The most obvious visible feature of the site as it now stands is the large conical mound 18.5m in height, with a small, disturbed summit, the whole surrounded by a shallow ditch 1.5-3 m deep. To the west of the mound is a small, irregularly triangular courtyard (probably reduced in size by the collapse of the cliff), enclosed to the south and east by a ditched, earthen embankment up to 4m in height above courtyard level and curving out from the mound some 94m to the edge of the cliff. The ditch to this embankment is of similar depth to that around the mound, but 6-10m wide. A small bank, 0.5m high, running from the north-west of the mound to the same cliff edge completes the enclosure. No original entrance survives.
It is possible that some development of the castle in stone took place, for squared tool-marked stones were revealed in an amateur excavation in 1720. No subsequent excavation work has been reported.
The site appears to be undocumented and nothing is known of its history, although it was very probably a castle of the de Furnivals in the twelfth century. (Birch 1981

The bailey place name is probably derived from bailiff rather than a reference to the enclosure attached to the motte. Presumably after the castle was abandoned as a lordly residence it remained the site of the estate manager, or bailiffs, house and probably also the site of the manorial court.
The notably rocky local soil must have been difficult to dig and this castle represents a considerable effort.
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

Data >
PastScape   County HER   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 09:20:08

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