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Liddell Strength Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Liddel Mote; Lydel; Ledale; pele of Liddel; Lidel

In the civil parish of Kirkandrews.
In the historic county of Cumberland.
Modern Authority of Cumbria.
1974 county of Cumbria.
Medieval County of Cumberland.

OS Map Grid Reference: NY40187416
Latitude 55.05831° Longitude -2.93801°

Liddell Strength Castle has been described as a certain Timber Castle.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


Liddel Strength, is an earthwork castle situated at NY 4018 7416, at the edge of a steep wooded escarpment of boulder clay. The whole site has been affected by the erosion of the river cliff, and is covered by rough pasture, scattered scrub and small trees. The remains are unusual. At face value they comprise an eroded motte, standing 6.6 m above an inner bailey to the east, with an outer bailey further to the E. However, it may be significant that there is no trace of a ditch between the motte and the inner 'bailey' and the ditch around the S side of the combined motte and inner ward, connecting with the river cliff, describes a neat semi-circle as if enclosing a cohesive whole. This ditch is massive, up to 4.1 m deep externally and up to 8.2 m below the inner rampart of the inner ward. The impression is that it initially enclosed a ringwork, and that the motte was a later insertion on the W side of it. The outer bailey, less strong than the inner, is bounded by a bank, up to 1.4 m high internally, and outer ditch, up to 2.2 m deep externally. Contained within the inner ward are the turf covered remains of a tower.
The castle is first mentioned in 1174 and was taken and destroyed in 1346 to be superseded by the tower; it seems likely that it was never rebuilt in stone. (PastScape–ref. Field Investigators Comments–Keith Blood/06-MAY-1992/RCHME: Liddel Strength Survey)

The castellum or fortified close of Liddel was taken by William the Lion in 1174 (Benedict. Abbas, Gesta Hen. II. Ric. I. (Rolls Series), i. 65); in 1282 it is described as the site of a castle with hall of wood, a chapel, etc. (Inq. p.m. 10 Edw. I. No. 26) ; arrangements were made on 10 November 1300 for 'repairing the mote and the fosses around: strengthening and redressing the same, and the pele and the palisades, and making lodges within the mote if necessary for the safety of the men-at-arms of the garrison ' ( Cal. of Scot. Doc. (Scot. Rec. Pub.), ii. 299). Some of the titles by which it was designated are interesting. In 1310 it was referred to as the 'Piel of Ledel,' and in 1319 as the 'Pele of Lidell ' (ibid. iii. 45, 1 28) ; as the ' fortalitium de Lidelle' in 1346 ( Chron. de Lanercost (Maitland Club), 345; Hist. Dunelm. Script. Tres (Surtees Soc.), ccccxxxiv.) ; the 'municipium de Lidallis quod apud Marchias erat ' ( Scotichronicon (Goodall), ii. 340) ; as 'quoddam manerium dominae de Wake vocatum Ludedew ' (Galf. le Baker (Giles), 170); best known as 'Liddel Moat,' or 'Liddel Strength,' the latter of which has been adopted by the Ordnance Survey. The great ditches, which still remain, show that it was a hill-fort surrounded by a moated palisade. (VCH 1905)

A site which is sometime confused with Liddel Castle in Roxburghshire. Care needs to be taken particularly with primary sources.
Gatehouse has doubts that the scant turf covered remains of a rectangular masonry building within the earthworks are of later tower. They may be of a masonry hall, or perhaps more likely the mentioned chapel, of a date before 1346. The account of a later tower appear to be a confusion with the house of Fergus Graham at Highmoat. See Liddell Strength Tower record for discussion.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:32

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