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After its capture during the civil wars of the time of Stephen, we hear nothing more of Sheriff Hutton Castle.
Description. The earthworks which mark the site of the Bulmer castle of Sheriff Hutton lie immediately to the south of the church, and are certainly the most curious of their kind in the North Riding. At the first glance one might be inclined to think that here we have the usual Norman motte, but that it has been slighted in an unusual manner. But the true solution of the extraordinary appearance the motte presents is that it marks a new and unusual type of earth-and-timber castle consisting of a motte of some size enclosing a very small ward surrounded by an abnormally high and wide banquette, which appears, accustomed as we are only to light banquettes, absolutely colossal when compared with the miniature court beneath. In three places this banquette presents huge gaps, which gave an extraordinary bastion-like appearance to the motte. The gap on the west represents the entrance to the summit of the motte from the attached bailey; but it has, of course, been very greatly enlarged. The enlargement of this, and of the other two gaps, has probably been caused by previous incumbents using the motte as a handy place from which to obtain soil. The motte ditch is still in good preservation on the north and south. The timber walls of the keep would rest upon the banquette; the well-like ward or court forming the basement of the tower.
The bailey lay to the west and north-west of the motte, but its ditches have been largely filled up. There are, however, distinct traces of them (see plan).2
1 The fortifications probably resembled those at Devizes (Wilts.), where the buildings are so deeply sunk inside the motte as to justify the expression so frequently met with in the Pipe Rolls, "domus infra motam " or in motâ."
2 The church of St. Helen, immediately north of the church (see plan), is contemporary with it, the lower part of the tower dating from the first quarter of the twelfth century. In this church is what the writer considers one of the most interesting effigies in the North Riding. It lies in what is now the vestry but which was originally the chapel of St Nicholas and St. Giles, founded a year or two previous to 1447 by Thomas Witham, Chancellor of the Exchequer, into which it may have been moved from the chancel. The tomb bears five mutilated shields, which the writer, taking them from west to east, reads as follows: (1) (Argent) a fess (gules) between three
popinjays (vert), for Thweng of Kilton Castle. (2) Quarterly (gules and vair), over all a bendlet (or), for Constable of Flamborough. (3) (Argent) a fess (gules) between three popinjays (vert), on the fess three escallops (argent), for Thweng of Cornborough. (4) (Or) a bend (sable) bearing three eagles (argent), the arms of Robert de Mauley (Roll of Arms, temp. Edw. II, ed. Sir Harris Nicholas, 61). (5) (Argent) a fess (gules) between three popinjays (vert), for Thweng of Kilton. The effigy is in excellent preservation. The knight's arms and legs are protected by plate armour; he wears a mail hood surmounted by a conical helmet; a shirt of chain mail reaches almost to the knees. His head rests upon two cushions supported by angels; his legs are crossed his feet rest upon a lion. His shield bears a fess between three popinjays, and on the fess are three escallops. These arms
SKELTON (figs. 7 and 8).
Although the original timber castle of Skelton developed into a rectangular keep fortress, very little of the stone stronghold of the Brus now remains above ground, and the writer. therefore, proposes dealing with it in this article rather than in those devoted to the rectangular keep castles.
History. There would seem to be little doubt that this castle was founded by Richard de Surdeval, possibly about
prove that he was the head of the house of Thweng of Cornborough, a junior branch of the Thwengs of Kilton. He wears a surcoat which falls in graceful folds midway between the knees and the ankles. The conjunction of a surcoat with plate armour appears to the writer to be unusual. Taking all the details into consideration, the plate armour, the presence of the shield and of the surcoat (instead of the later fourteenth century short, tight-fitting jupon), the writer is inclined to date the effigy about 1350-1360. The effigy may represent Edmund de Thweng of Cornborough, son of John de Thweng of Cornborough, and father of the John de Thweng of Cornborough who was living 41 Edward III (1367-8). If, however, it is possible to trace the history of this junior branch of the Thwengs, the shields should put the question beyond all doubt. The effigies of Yorkshire have never received the attention their importance undoubtedly merits, and it is to be hoped that the county may produce an expert on this most fascinating branch of archæological research. An examination by the writer, during the spring of this year, of all the North Riding effigies, was sufficient to convince him that even some of those which have been identified " are assigned to persons they do not represent. The Crathorne effigy is a case in point. It is said to represent Sir William de Crathorne, slain at Neville's Cross in 1346, and a modern tablet to that effect is placed above it, but it is obvious that the effigy cannot be later than 1300-1310, and even supposing that Sir William bought his effigy during his lifetime out of stock, he would hardly have selected an effigy nearly half a century old. It has been suggested to the writer by a well-known North Country antiquary that the effigy probably represents a Percy, the original lords of Crathorne, and that it was subsequently acquired" by the Crathornes. A particularly glaring example of such an acquisition may be seen at Norton (co. Durham).
1 We are told, with monotonous regularity, in local "histories" and guide books, that Skelton Castle was founded in the reign of Stephen, about 1140, by Robert de Brus, and by dint of
constant repetition, and because the statement has not hitherto been contradicted, it has actually come to be accepted as gospel. But when we track this statement to its source, we find that it was first propounded by Ord (History of Cleveland, p. 248), a writer to whose statements, either historical or architectural, no importance whatever need be attached. In order to ascertain to whom we may attribute the foundation of Skelton Castle, the writer has visited, at the expenditure of a considerable amount of time, patience, and petrol, all the numerous manors in Yorkshire held at the time of the Survey by Richard de Surdeval and by Nigel Fossard, the two great Yorkshire feudatories of Robert, Earl of Mortain. On the manors held by Fossard he found earthworks marking the sites of no fewer than five Norman castles, the erection of three of which, Montferrant, East Riding; Foss, North Riding; and Langthwaite, West Riding, may, almost certainly, be attributed to Nigel Fossard between 1071 and 1075. The other two, Aughton and Lockington, both in the East Riding, may be assigned either to Nigel Fossard or to his son and successor, Robert, previous to But although between 1071 and 1100, we may safely say that Nigel Fossard, or his son, erected five castles on the Fossard estates, which contained 430 carucates of land, an examination of the numerous manors, aggregating 257 carucates, held by his co-feudatory, Richard de Surdeval, fails to reveal the slightest trace of the former existence upon them of any castle of Norman date with the solitary exception of the great burgus" castle of Skelton. When we remember that a castle would be an absolute necessity to such a powerful landowner as Surdeval undoubtedly was, the only conclusion, surely-in the absence of any contemporary record on the point-we can come to is that Surdeval was the founder of Skelton Castle, and as the sub-infeudation of the Mortain property in Yorkshire undoubtedly took place very soon after 1071, we may, with some degree of assurance, state that Skelton Castle would be founded between 1072 and 1075, possibly nearer the former than the latter date.
1072-5. Surdeval was one of the two great Yorkshire feudatories of Robert, Earl of Mortain and of Cornwall,1 under whom he held 121 carucates of land in the North Riding, 56 in the East, and 80 in the West, or 257 carucates in all. Among his North Riding manors was that of Skelton-in-Cleveland.2 He came from Sourdeval-le-Barre, near the town of Mortain (Manche). We know very little about him; his name does not appear as a benefactor to any monastic house, or even as a witness to a charter. He would appear to have become a tenant-in-capite after the Mortain rebellion of 1088.4 We have
1 Robert, Earl of Mortain and of Cornwall, the "Comes Moritoniensis," of the Survey, was a younger son of Herleva, the mother of the Conqueror, by her husband, Herlwine de Conteville. He held, at the time of the Survey, some 215 manors in Yorkshire, 93 of which he gave, in subinfeudation, to Nigel Fossard (see Foss Castle), and 59 to Richard de Surdeval. This subinfeudation would appear to have taken place soon after 1071, possibly even in that year. The earl would seem to have possessed none of the energy and ability of his famous brother, Odo, bishop of Bayeux, but he was a noted castlebuilder. The remarkable keep at Pevensey-recently excavated by Mr. Harold Sands and Mr. D. H. Montgomerieprobably owes its origin to him. Mr. Wm. Farrer (Vic. Count. Hist. of Yorks., vol. ii, p. 155) says: "he was a dull and heavy man of little influence." He was, however, undoubtedly one of the most wealthy men in the kingdom.
The list of his possessions," says Freeman, in his beautifully worded book (vol. iv, pp. 169-170), "lands of Earl Harold, of the Sheriff Maerleswegen, and of a crowd of smaller victims, is simply endless. Hardly any other landowners appear to Cornwall, except the Crown and ecclesiastical bodies. Thus arose that great earldom, and afterwards Duchy of Cornwall, which was deemed too powerful to be trusted in the hands of any but men closely akin to the royal house, and the remains of which have for ages formed the appendage of the heir-apparent to the crown."
2 Richard de Surdeval held the following manors in Cleveland under the Earl of Mortain at the time of the Survey, viz.:-Aislaby, Barnby, Little Broughton with its soke of Marske, Great and Little Moorsholm, Skelton, Seaton near Hinderwell, Seamer and Taunton near Stokesley, Stainton and Tocketts, aggregating 67 carucates and 3 bovates of land, Skelton being the most important manor. Skelton is thus described in the Survey: "In Schelton ad geldum xiii carucate et vii caruce possunt esse. Ibi Vctred habuit i manerium. Nunc
habet Ricardus (de Surdeval) de Comite. In dominio i carucata et xii villani cum iii carucis et prati acre XX Silua pasturalis ii leucas longa et ii quarantenas lata. Totum manerium v leucas longum et ii latum. T.R.E. ualebat xl solidos, modo xvi solidos."
3 Robert de Surdeval, one of the barons who settled in Italy, was probably Richard's brother. Robert accompanied Bohemund, Prince of Tarentum, to the Holy Land in the first Crusade, 1096 (Ordericus Vit., ix, iv). Although Richard de Surdeval of Skelton would not appear to have had a son, the name of Surdeval is met with in England after his death, and it is obvious that he must have been accompanied to England by at least one kinsman. A certain Eudo de Surdeval was the second abbot of Furness in the reign of Henry I, and Peter and William de Surdeval who, as tenants of Walter Espec, witnessed the foundation charter of Rievaulx in 1131, may have been Richard's nephews.
Robert, Earl of Mortain and of Cornwall, was induced, in 1088, by his ambitious brother, Odo, bishop of Bayeux, to join in the conspiracy to depose Rufus, and to place Robert of Normandy on the English throne. The attempt being a failure, he was banished by Rufus, who confiscated his vast estates in England. He died two years later and, according to the obituary of that house, was interred in the abbey of Grestain (Eure), founded by his father, Herlwine de Conteville. Although his son, William, subsequent to his father's death, would appear to have recovered a portion of the English property, it seems very improbable that he ever regained the Yorkshire estates. The fact that there would not appear to. exist any confirmation by this William of Nigel Fossard's lavish grant of lands, c. 1090, to St. Mary's, York, or of his gifts to Holy Trinity Priory, York, practically proves that Nigel- and therefore, of course, his co-feudatory, Richard de Surdeval-had become tenants-in-capite at the time of the confiscation of the Mortain property in
apparently no means of ascertaining the exact date of his death, but it may have taken place c. 1090-5. That he left no son seems certain, and the division of his property is by no means clear. His son-in-law, Ralph Paynel, would seem to have inherited, in right of his wife, Matilda de Surdeval, lands in Adel, Arthington, Hooton Paynel, etc., but it seems probable that the king took possession of the greater part of his North Riding estates, including his castle of Skelton, retaining the latter in his own hands for the period-some five to fifteen years which appears to have intervened between Surdeval's death and the grant of the castle to Robert de Brus.
Robert de Brus would not appear to have come to England until about 1091,3 if so early, and, apparently about 1091, was given extensive estates in the North Riding. That he would require a castle on his Cleveland property previous to Henry I giving him the Surdeval fortress of Skelton is certain, and we have already come to the conclusion that the stronghold of Castleton was his original Cleveland home. It is obvious that Brus came into possession of Skelton Castle between 1100
1088 Dr. Round, in his Cal Doc. of France, 437, tells us that, between 1103 and 1106, Ralph Paynel, Robert de Brus, and others. witnessed Count William's charter to Marmoutier, but the writer agrees with Mr. Wm. Farrer (Vic. Count. Hist. of Yorks, vol. ii, p. 155) that little or no importance need attach to the fact that they were witnesses. In his foundation charter of Guisborough Priory, 1119, Robert de Brus-Surdeval's successor at Skelton-states that he grants all the property to that house "with all the liberties, free customs and privileges which we "-i.e. himself, his wife Agnes, and Adam, his eldest son and heirpossessed in them by the gift and grant of Henry, king of England."
1 Ralph Paynel was Sheriff of Yorkshire in 1088.
2 Thos. Stapleton, Holy Trinity Priory, Royal Arch. Inst., York, Mem. (1846),
3 It is, perhaps, needless to comment upon the absurd statement that he came over with the Conqueror, fought at Hastings, subdued the rebellion in the North, and that as a reward for his services the Conqueror bestowed upon him vast estates in Yorkshire (Ord, History of Cleveland, p. 247, and copied by others). This is all very clearly disproved by the Domesday Survey. It seems impossible to fix any definite date for the appearance of Robert de Brus in England. Mr. William Farrar, D.Litt. (Vict. County Hist. of Yorkshire, vol. ii, p. 186), says: "Robert de Bruis was a witness to the charter of Earl
Hugh of Chester, giving the church of Flamborough to Prior Reinfrid and the convent of Whitby (Whitby Chartulary, 28). It was addressed to He. Vicecomite Eboraci,' and was further attested by Count Alan (of Brittany). It appears, therefore, to indicate that Robert de Bruis was one of the feudatories of the county before 1094, possibly before 1089." Unfortunately, however, this charter is of very doubtful authenticity-this is the opinion both of Mr. William Brown, F.S.A., and Mr. W. T. Lancaster, F.S.A.-and therefore cannot be taken as proof that Robert de Brus was in England either in 1094 or in 1089. The writer is, however, inclined to agree with Mr. Farrar (ibid.) that "he (Brus) obtained after the completion of the Survey, apparently from Rufus, a large estate in Cleveland and in the wapentake of Claro, besides other lands. Shortly afterwards he obtained Danby and part of Eskdale from the King in exchange possibly for Azerley and some other lands in "Borgescire wapentake." The writer has already expressed his opinion (p. 337) that the original fortress of Brus was at Castleton, and that this stronghold remained his seigneural residence until, some time between 1100 and 1119-it is impossible to be more definite-he received from Henry I the grant of the barony of Skelton. But it must not be overlooked that there is no definite proof that Brus owned any lands in Yorkshire, or indeed in England, previous to the year 1110.
4 See Castleton.