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Right opposite the castle, across the ravine, and less than 200 yards distant, picturesque rocks tower above the beck, and are some fifty feet higher than the promontory on which the castle stands. Immediately behind these rocks the ground rises until at a point some 300 yards from the ruin it attains a height of some 400 feet.
The view from the eastern end of the castle is a very beautiful combination of wood and moorland scenery. Southward winds the deep well-wooded ravine ; beyond the purple moorlands in long smooth billows rise to a height of goo feet, with the curious conical mound of Freebrough conspicuous in the foreground. A few scattered moorside farmsteads are the only signs of human habitation.
The situation of the castle is wonderfully picturesque. Even now, ruined as it is, when the trees are leafless and a comprehensive view may be obtained, the long northern front is singularly imposing, and it requires but little imagination to realise how impressive in its gloomy grandeur must have been this long stately façade when complete.
No history of this picturesque but little-known ruin, perched on its rocky promontory in one of the wildest of the many beautiful Cleveland ravines “ 'twixt the heather and the Northern Sea,” has hitherto been written. So little, indeed, is generally known of the castle, that Mr. Alfred Harvey, in the appendix of his “Castles and Walled Towns of England,” includes it among the ruins where no masonry now exists.
During the last few years the writer has collected a mass of interesting information respecting the history of the occupiers of the castle, the greater part of which, owing to lack of space, it is impossible to put on record in the compass of such an article as the present one.
The accounts given of the castle by the three Cleveland historians-Graves, writing in 1808 ; Ord, writing in 1846 ; and Atkinson, writing in 1875—are of little or no value either from an historical or archæological point of view. The two former state that it was built by Robert de Brus in the reign of Stephen, and that it descended to Marmaduke de Thweng
the Brus partition of 1271. Both statements are quite inaccurate.
Atkinson makes no attempt to give a history of the fortalice, but points out that as the Thwengs were undoubtedly in possession of the castle and fief as far back as 1257, “holding them
indisputably of a de Percy," they could not, as Graves and Ord state, have descended to the Thwengs from the Brus family.
The descriptions given by these historians of the ruins are only interesting in that they would all tend to prove that apart from natural decay, the ruins have been for over a century in pretty much the same condition as that in which we see them to-day.
Unfortunately, however, Messrs. Bell Brothers, Ltd.--the mining lessees of Mr. W. H. A. Wharton, of Skelton Castle, the owner of Kilton--are now working the ironstone beneath the castle, and it is probable that within the next few years the damage done to the ruin will far exceed in magnitude anything that has occurred within the last two centuries. It
. may be taken for granted that every reasonable effort will be made by the owner to preserve the ruins as they now exist; but the effects of mining operations on a building constructed on a promontory such as that on which the remains of the castle stand are almost certain to be disastrous.
It is this fact which has induced the Yorkshire Archæological Society to place on record in its Journal the history and description of the castle, together with appropriate photographic views.
THE FOUNDATION OF THE FIEF OF KYLTON.
William de Percy, first feudal baron of the most historic of our great English houses, “the founder of a great name, whose genuine bearers soon passed away,” says Freeman (iv, p. 297), “but which has been, like that of the Cæsars, artificially handed on to later times,” was one of the smaller tenants-in-capite in Cleveland at the time of the Survey.
Alan de Percy, second feudal baron, received considerable additions to the Percy estates in Cleveland, partly out of royal property, partly by grant from the Earl of Chester, but principally from lands which had belonged to the unfortunate Earl of Mortain. The augmentation of the Percy estates in Cleveland led Alan to found, apparently about 1106, what subsequently became known as the Fief of Kilton in the Barony of Percy.
This fief Alan granted in subinfeudation to a certain Walter, who, if not actually a member of the Percy family, was probably closely allied to them. 1 William de Percy, first feudal baron, appears
have been accompanied the founder of the abbey of Saint Hilda, to England by two brothers, Serlo, first at Whitby, died 1096, and was buried Prior of Whitby, and William (?), the at Monsgaudium, in the Holy Land. He father of William de Percy, first Abbot
The fief was divided into three portions, viz.:-(1) The Fief of Kilton proper; (2) the Lordship of Hinderwell; (3) the Kirkleatham property.
THE FIEF OF KILTON PROPER contained the two manors of Kilton, the two manors of Torp or Kilton Thorpe, the manor of Little Moorsholm, and the soke of South Lofthouse.
THE CAPITAL MANOR OF KILTON is thus described in the Survey :
Terra Regis. Nort Reding. Langeberg Wapent. Manerium. In Chilton Turchil iii carucatas terre ad geldum. Ibi viii acre prati.
This manor was given to Alan de Percy by Henry I about 1104, hen the King also gave him
the Mortain manor of Kilton.
THE MORTAIN MANOR OF KILTON is thus described in the Survey :
Terra Comitis Moritoniensis. In Chilton ad geldum i carucata et dimidia caruca potest arare.
Ibi Vetred habuit i manerium. Nunc habet Comes Robertus et wastum est.
What were the original boundaries of these two ancient manors is now quite uncertain. At a very early date, probably about 1135, a mill was built on the site of the present Kilton Mill, and is mentioned in the Inquests p. m. of the Thweng lords.
THE ROYAL MANOR OF TORP (Kilton Thorp) was granted to Alan de Percy by the King at the same time as the royal manor of Kilton, and is thus described in the Survey, viz.:
Terra Regis. Manerium. In Torp Turchil ii carucatas terre et dimidiam ad geldum. Terra ad i carucam.
THE MORTAIN MANOR OF TORP (Kilton Thorp) is thus described in the Survey :of Whitby. William de Percy I had issue, related to the Percies, and it seems by his wife Emma de Porte, four sons- improbable that he would have received Alan, second feudal baron, the founder so comparatively large a fief had this of the Kilton fief (obiit circa 1131), not been the case, he may have been an Walter, Richard, lord of Dunsley, and illegitimate son of William de Percy J. William, a monk (see the Percy pedigree, 1 Sometime about 1216, de Mauley, given p. 682-683 note, Cartalarium Baron of Mulgrave, the principal adherent Abbathæ de Whiteby, vol. 2). It seems in Cleveland of King John against the improbable that
Walter, the first baronial party, seems to have compelled holder of what subsequently became Alta Ripa, then lord of the Kilton fief, known as the fief of Kilton, in the to give him the Mortain manor of Thorp, barony of Percy, was the second son containing it carucates of land. How of William de Percy I, for had this this came about there is nothing to been the case he would, almost certainly show; but that it did occur is certain, have retained the family name. It and this small manor was, previous to
Terra Comitis Moritoniensis. In Torp ad geldum i carucata et dimidia et i caruca potest esse. Ibi habuit Vetred i manerium. Nunc habet Comes et wastum est.
These four small manors comprised the present township of Kilton (1,723 acres), and aggregated eight carucates, giving an average of about 215 acres per carucate. Of the ancient boundaries of the four manors it is impossible to say anything definitely.
THE MORTAIN MANOR OF LITTLE MOORSOM is thus described in the Survey :
Terra Comitis Moritoniensis. In Alia Morehusum ad geldum i carucata et dimidia caruca potest arare. Ibi Vetred habuit i manerium. Nunc habet Ricardus (de Surdeval) de Comite et wastum est. Totam dimidiam leucam longum et ii quarantenas latum.”
This small manor was granted by one of the early lords of Kilton in subinfeudation to a family who took their name from the place, and were known as the de Alia Moresums. Their residence stood on the site now occupied by the house known as Little Moorsholm Farm. This family were benefactors, with the consent of their over-lords, to the Priory of Guisborough and the hospital of Hutton. The manor
“Est apud Lyttel Moresom unium messuagium,” i.e. the farmstead of the Alia Moresoms, “et una carucata terrae debilis et morosae ”—the moors seem to have extended further southwards than they do to-day-" continens lx acras de quibus duae partes possunt quoet anno seminari cum utroque semine precium acre iid et tertia pars inde jacet quolibet anno in warecto et pastura inde nichil valet quia jacet in communi.” (Inq. p. m. Wm. de Thweng, 1341.)
This is interesting, as showing the method of cultivation adopted.
THE CHESTER SOKE OF SOUTH LOFTUS.-A considerable portion of the lordship of Locthusum (Lofthouse) was granted, soon after the Survey, by the then owner, the Earl of Chester, to William de Percy, and the soke of South Lofthouse, which from the Percy feodary appears to have contained six carucates of land, was, at an early date, incorporated in the fief of Kilton. 1230, subinfeuded by the Mauleys to de Nevill is named as holding certain a junior branch of the Nevill family, lands in Wilton, Lackenby, Kilton and was never regained by the lords of Thorp, and Ellerby under Peter de Kilton. In Kirkby's Inquest, Ranulph Mauley, Baron of Mulgrave.
The Kilton fief proper, therefore, consisted in all of six manors, five lying on the west and one on the east side of the Kilton beck, and aggregating in all fifteen carucates of land.
THE LORDSHIP OF HINDERWELL.--This lordship extended over some 4,684 acres, and comprised the whole of the present parish of Hinderwell-cum-Roxby (4,905 acres), with the exception of the berewic of Bergebi, consisting of one carucate. In addition, the soke of Boulby, which had originally formed part of the Earl of Chester's lordship of Lofthouse, and which had, soon after the Survey, been given by him to William de Percy, was included in the Hinderwell lordship, bringing the total area up to some 5,200 acres.
Various portions of this extensive lordship were, at an early date, granted by the lords of Kilton in subinfeudation to different families.
According to Kirkby's Inquest (1284), the heirs of Robert de Seton held the manor of Hinderwell, Adam de Seton the manor of Seaton, and Wm. de Bovington that of Roxby, all under the Thwengs, whilst the families of Wyrkfauke and Dalehaus are mentioned in the Inq. p. m. of Thomas de Thweng (48 Edward III) as holding lands in the lordship under the barons of Kilton.1
When, about 1106, Walter into possession of the Hinderwell lordship, there were two churches upon the property, one at Seaton and the other, in ruins, at Hinderwell.
The Seaton church stood about a quarter of a mile east of Seaton Hall, and on its site three stone coffins and human bones
found some fifty years ago, one of the former bearing interlaced Anglo-Saxon sculpture. The church was probably abandoned about 1140, and allowed to go to ruin.
The Hinderwell church stood on the site of the modern cemetery of Hinderwell, the supposed dimensions of the consecrated ground attached to it being now marked out by stones
1 The Wyrkfaukes were settled in two bovates of land in the same place the parish of Hinderwell at an early (Ibid., No. 429) to Whitby Abbey, date, probably so
concedente filio meo Willelmo." This feudatories of the de Kyltons. The son William gave 4 perches square of name is spelt in different ways, Wyrkfauk, meadow in Gildhustofts between Ellerby Wirfauc, Wirfald, Wirfaud, etc.; and and Hinderwell to the Abbey (Ibid., they were still resident in the parish No. 100), and his son Osbert Wirfauck in 1662, when the name is spelt Worfolk. gave half a carucate of land in Hinderwell In the Inq. p. m. Thomae de Thweng to the same house (Ibid., No. 428). (48 Edward 111), Roger de Wyrkfauk William of Ochetun, another feudatory is mentioned as holding lands in Hinder- of the de Kyltons in Hinderwell, gave a well under the lords of Kilton. Wm. toft in that place to provide for a light Wirfaud gave half a carucate of land before the aliar at Whitby Abbey (Ibid., with a house at Hinderwell (Charter No. 227). No. 426, Cart. Abbat, de Whiteby), and