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Thorne Peel Hill

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Thurn

In the civil parish of Thorne.
In the historic county of Yorkshire West Riding.
Modern Authority of Doncaster.
1974 county of South Yorkshire.

OS Map Grid Reference: SE68951334
Latitude 53.61208° Longitude -0.95926°

Thorne Peel Hill has been described as a certain Timber Castle, and also as a certain Masonry Castle.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.

Description

a very well-preserved motte c.8m high and over 15m wide at the summit. It is surrounded by a deep, steep-sided ditch but is now enclosed by roads and modern building such that no sign of any outer rampart remains. A bailey is believed to have lain to the south where, according to seventeenth century documentary references, important medieval buildings stood. This area is not, however, included in the scheduling as the precise location of these buildings is uncertain. According to Leland (1534), a motte tower still stood in the sixteenth century and was used as a jail. By 1829, however, when Casson was writing, this had been demolished and only foundations survived. Casson's description of the remains indicates that the castle was a smaller version of the nearby great keep at Conisbrough. Like Conisbrough, Peel Hill motte and bailey castle was held by the de Warennes and is one of a group of such castles commanding the Don Valley. (Scheduling Report)

Casson refers to the site being owned by a John Benson, Esq., who "a few years ago" (I.e. the first quarter of the 19th century) "bared the foundations of the castle". There have been no known excavations since. The Manor belonged to Warennes of Consibrough in the 12th century, who erected the church. The VCH suggests that the castle served as a hunting lodge in Hatfield Chase. The tower remained standing into the 16th century at least. Leland writing in 1534, states, "by the chyrch garth of Thurne is a praty pile or castelet, well diked, now used for a prison for offenders in the forestes" Early 17th century accounts suggest that important medieval buildings stood south of the motte, there are references to the 'hall garth' (evidently west of the church) and the 'king's chamber' and the Chamber over the outward gate. The 'gate House' evidently stood in Stonegate not far from the church. The presence of an important group of buildings with a specific gatehouse, in this situation would suggest that the Peel Hill had a bailey to the south. The parish church may have developed from the castle chapel as evidently happened at St George's Church, Doncaster. (South Yorkshire SMR)

The motte is circular 6.7m, 16.8m in diameter the top, 50m north of the parish church parts of which are of C12. Small fragments of rubble wall core survive buried beneath earth at the summit. The motte ditch survives but is partly filled in on the south. The local manor belonged to the Warennes of Conisborough in C12 who erected the Church. The VCH suggests that the castle served as a hunting lodge in Hatfield Chase. The form of the stone tower on the motte seems to have been unusual. Casson wrote that the top of them was found to be from four to five feet thick and composed of rounded stones and cement and it appears to have had three large buttresses or outworks pointing north-east, west and south-east." The tower remained standing into C16 at least. Leyland wrote in 1534 "by the church garth of Thorne is a praty pile or castelet, well diked, now used for a prison for offenders in the forestes". Possible had bailey to south, now vanished. (Thorne-Moorends Town Council)

The circular keep with an imposed triangular form is rare but not unknown, the best example is Orford Castle Suffolk but also Longtown Castle, Herefordshire. However, the Throne great tower was clearly modelled on nearby Conisbrough Castle, a circular tower with 6 buttresses.
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Sources of information, references and further reading
  • Websites (Gatehouse is not responsible for the content of external websites.)
  • Books
    • Turner, Maurice, 2004, Yorkshire Castles: Exploring Historic Yorkshire (Otley: Westbury Publishing) p. 249
      Hey, David, 2003, Medieval South Yorkshire (Landmark Publishing) p. 73
      Salter, Mike, 2001, The Castles and Tower Houses of Yorkshire (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 104
      Ingham, Bernard, 2001, Bernard Ingham's Yorkshire Castles (Dalesman) p. 23
      King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 527
      Ryder, P.F., 1982 (paperback edn 1992), The Medieval Buildings of Yorkshire (Ash Grove Book) p. 87-107
      Hey, David, 1979, The Making of South Yorkshire p. 44
      Magilton, J.R., 1977, The Doncaster District: An Archaeological Survey (Doncaster) p. 71-3
      Illingworth, J.L., 1938 (republished 1970), Yorkshire's Ruined Castles (Wakefield) p. 132
      Armitage and Montgomerie, 1912, in Page, Wm (ed), VCH Yorkshire Vol. 2 p. 23
      Sheahan and Whellan, 1857, History and Topography of the City of York, etc. (Beverley) Vol. 1 p. 773
      Casson, W., 1829, History and Antiquities of Thorne p. 30-39 online copy
  • Periodical Articles
    • Speight, Sarah, 2004, ''Religion in the Bailey: Charters, Chapels and the Clergy' Château Gaillard Vol. 21 p. 271-80
      Birch, J., 1981, 'The castles and fortified houses of South Yorkshire' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 137 p. 374-6
      Clark, G.T., 1889, 'Contribution towards a complete list of moated mounds or burhs' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 46 p. 197-217 esp. 216 (seems to be listed twice as Thorne and Thurn) online copy
  • Antiquarian (Histories and accounts from late medieval and early modern writers)
    • Chandler, John, 1993, John Leland's Itinerary: travels in Tudor England  (Sutton Publishing) p. 526
      Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1907, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 1 p. 36 online copy
  • Other sources: Theses; 'grey' literature; in-house reports; unpublished works; etc.
    • 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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The bibliography owes much to various bibliographies produced by John Kenyon for the Council for British Archaeology, the Castle Studies Group and others.
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This record last updated on Saturday, November 15, 2014

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