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Bradfield Castle Hill

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

OS Map Grid Reference: SK27109233
Latitude 53.42697° Longitude -1.59357°

Bradfield Castle Hill has been described as a probable Timber Castle, and also as a Masonry Castle although is doubtful that it was such, and also as a Siege Work but is rejected as such.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.

Description

At Castle Hill in Hunter's time the remains of a keep were visible, with a ditch round it except on the steep side of the hill (VCH). An elongated motte with circumscribing ditch occupies the northern extremity of the long natural ridge at Castle Hill. The motte, which has an average height of 4.0m, merges with the steep scarp of the ridge in the south. Its sides have been extensively quarried, and the top has been mutilated. No traces of any building foundations are visible. A surrounding ditch has been partially infilled by the quarrying activity. It is best preserved on the northern side where it has a maximum depth of 1.0m. There are no other apparent outworks (Field Investigators Comments–F1 RWE 03-JUL-61). Listed as a probable ringwork. It is suggested the site could be a siege castle or a predecessor to Bailey Hill (SK 29 SE/12). (Birch, 1981)

The rocky outcrop on the skyline to the east of the church, known as Castle Hill, may have been a natural feature rather than a fortified site, though perhaps it was a simple type of defence known as a ringwork or merely a look-out point. (Hey, 1973)

Castle Hill. This is less perfect than Bailey Hill; but the remains of a keep are visible, surrounded by a ditch, except on the steep side of the hill, where a ditch was not necessary; and on the slope of the hill there is an appearance of an intrenchment. ... The indications of artificial work at Castle Hill are very faint. These note were made on the spot in July 1826. (Hunter)

This area has never been subject to ploughing or intense agriculture. There is no reason to feel this 'earthwork' would have been subject to greater erosion than Bailey Hill. It was slight in 1826 and probably slight in 1200. It has, however, been subject to much small quarrying of the sort required for the local stone field walls. The southern side may have been more systematically quarried. On low resolution air photos there does appear to be a ring feature around the hill top but on higher resolution air photos this apparent feature disappears and nothing that is clearly not natural can be made out. However this apparent feature does seem to represent something on the ground, since it occurs in early OS maps but this appears to be natural plus a few disconnected quarry trenches plus sheep track following contour lines. The nature of the supposed 'keep' reported in Hunter is unclear. Some authors seem to have assumed this was a masonry building but when Hunter was writing archaeological nomenclature was no standardised and various terms, including keep, were used for what C20 writers call a motte and therefore this need not necessarily refer to a stonework. This is clearly not a siege work, nor is its form or location likely to be that of a predecessor site. The field just to the north of Castle Hill is called Castle Fields on the OS map. The field to the east of that is marked 'Vicar of Ecclesfield for tithes' on the tithe award map - in other parishes with less complex church holdings such a field would have been called Church Field and it may be Castle Field was the demense holding of the Bailey Hill castle. It is, therefore, possibly that Castle Hill was originally "the hill in Castle Field" with no suggestion of it being an actual castle site. The name, having been shortened at some early date, and the slight but suggestive natural contours of the hill then leading to rather fanciful suggestions of a castle here. Alternatively this hill, which is very prominent when viewed from the village, was the centre for children's play for generations. Clearly some further investigation on the ground, probably including excavation, is required here. (Philip Davis personal comments and observations 2011)

Although Gatehouse feels this is a natural hill the site is scheduled as a motte and bailey so this record maintains this as a 'possible' site.
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Sources of information, references and further reading
  • Websites (Gatehouse is not responsible for the content of external websites.)
  • Books
    • Hey, David, 2003, Medieval South Yorkshire (Landmark Publishing) p. 73
      Salter, Mike, 2001, The Castles and Tower Houses of Yorkshire (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 26
      King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 514
      Ryder, P.F., 1982 (paperback edn 1992), The Medieval Buildings of Yorkshire (Ash Grove Book) p. 87-107
      Illingworth, J.L., 1938 (republished 1970), Yorkshire's Ruined Castles (Wakefield)
      Armitage and Montgomerie, 1912, in Page, Wm (ed), VCH Yorkshire Vol. 2 p. 26-7
      Armitage, Ella S., 1905, A key to English antiquites with special reference to the Sheffield and Rotherham district (London: J.M. Dent and Co) p. 56 online copy
      Hunter, J., 1869 (2edn), Hallamshire: the history and topography of the parish of Sheffield (London) p. 460-1
  • Periodical Articles
    • Birch, J., 1980, 'Castle Hill, Bradfield' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 137 p. 458-9
      Birch, J., 1981, 'The castles and fortified houses of South Yorkshire' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 137 p. 374-6
      Renn, D.F., 1959, 'Mottes: a classification' Antiquity Vol. 33 p. 106-12
      Addy, S.O., 1909, 'The Bailey Hill, Bradfield' Yorkshire Archaeological Journal Vol. 20 p. 119-20
      Chalkley Gould, I., 1904, 'Some early defensive earthworks of the Sheffield district' Journal of the British Archaeological Association Vol. 10 p. 29-42 esp. 41 online copy
      Clark, G.T., 1889, 'Contribution towards a complete list of moated mounds or burhs' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 46 p. 197-217 esp. 214 online copy
      Watson, John, 1779, 'An account of some hitherto undescribed remains of antiquity' Archaeologia Vol. 5 p. 92
  • Other sources: Theses; 'grey' literature; in-house reports; unpublished works; etc.
    • English Heritage, 2014, Heritage at Risk Register 2014 Yorkshire (London: English Heritage) p. 90 online copy
      English Heritage, 2013, Heritage at Risk Register 2013 Yorkshire (London: English Heritage) p. 94 online copy
      English Heritage, 2012, Heritage at Risk Register 2012 Yorkshire and the Humber (London: English Heritage) p. 115 online copy
      English Heritage, 2011, Heritage at Risk Register 2011 Yorkshire and the Humber (London: English Heritage) p. 107 online copy
      English Heritage, 2010, Heritage at Risk Register 2010 Yorkshire and the Humber (London: English Heritage) p. 111 online copy
      Constable, Christopher, 2003, Aspects of the archaeology of the castle in the north of England C 1066-1216 (Doctoral thesis, Durham University) Available at Durham E-Theses Online
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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.
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The information on this web page may be derived from information compiled by and/or copyright of English Heritage, County Historic Environment Records and other individuals and organisations. 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.
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This record last updated on Saturday, November 15, 2014

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