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castle of Hode by the Mowbrays; of the small motte castle of Carlton-in-Coverdale by the Fitz-Randolphs of Middleham; of the stone castle of Scarborough by William le Gros, 3rd Earl of Albemarle, who already possessed a great fortress at Skipsea (East Riding), and of the two purely robber castles of Hutton Conyers and Yafforth, by Alan the Black, the holder of the Honour of Richmond. It is, perhaps, hardly necessary to remark that the date of the erection of the majority of the abovementioned castles is conjectural owing to almost complete lack of documentary evidence.
Tradition avers that several other castles, of which Hornby in Richmondshire is one; were founded during the Norman period; but as historical inferences do not strongly support these traditions, and as there are no earthworks at these places which can, with confidence, be assigned to this period, they are omitted from the list. The writer is, however, quite prepared to admit that a certain number of hastily constructed
adulterine" castles may have been erected in the North Riding during the anarchy of the time of Stephen-in addition to those mentioned above-all traces of which have disappeared.
We have now, including Catterick, enumerated thirty-two castles as erected in the North Riding between the time of the Conquest of the North and the accession of Henry II. To this list we may add Northallerton--the Bishops' Palace—which, although not erected until the reign of Richard I, may be more conveniently referred to here as it was, in its original form, a motte and bailey castle ; and the siege castle of Pickering (Beacon Hill), the date of which is unknown. This brings the list up to thirty-four in number. If, in order to err on the safe side, we omit Guisborough and Hode--of which all traces would seem to have disappeared—and also Carlton, Catterick, Brompton, and Feliskirk—which are or less doubtful, the number is reduced to twenty-eight. Of these twenty-eight castles no fewer than nineteen possessed mottes, viz.:—Castle Levington, Castleton, Cotherston, Crayke, Cropton, Easby, Foss, Killerby, Middleham, Northallerton (2), Pickering (2), Pickhill, Sheriff Hutton, Thirsk, Topcliffe, Whorlton, and Yafforth. Of these, Castle Levington, Castleton, Cotherston, Easby, Pickering (Beacon Hill), and Yafforth were motte castles devoid of a bailey. At Skelton there is a certain amount of
1 If a castle existed at Catterick, it would probably owe its origin to Alan
the Black. VOL. XXII.
somewhat unreliable evidence of the one-time existence of a motte. There is hardly sufficient evidence remaining at Buttercrambe, Kildale, and Malton to enable us to say definitely that they possessed mottes; but the probabilities are certainly all in favour of their having done so. Helmsley, Kilton, Richmond, and Scarborough never possessed mottes.
As we have already noticed, only two of these twenty-eight castles possessed any works in masonry in the year 1154. Of the remaining twenty-six castles, nine are known to have
, developed stonework at different periods subsequent to 1154, viz.:-Castleton (c 1160), Cotherston (c. 1200), Crayke, Helmsley (c. 1200), Kilton (c. 1190), Northallerton (Bishops' Palace), Pickering (c. 1179-1186), Skelton (c. 1190), and Whorlton. It is probable that to this list should be added Buttercrambe (c. 1200), Malton, and possibly Kildale. The remaining fourteen, viz. Castle Levington, Cropton, Easby, Foss (abandoned c. 1197 and a stone castle erected half a mile distant), Hutton Conyers, Killerby (abandoned in 1291 and a stone castle erected a short distance away), Middleham (abandoned in 1190 and a stone castle built a quarter-mile away), Northallerton (Castle Hills), Pickering (Beacon Hill), Pickhill, Sheriff Hutton, Topcliffe, Thirsk, and Yafforth, would never appear to have evolved beyond the timber stage.
We notice that the majority of these castles are placed on or conveniently near Roman other ancient road. Foss, Cropton, and Malton are close to the Roman road leading from Malton to Dunsley Bay, whilst Pickering is only some two miles distant from it; Thirsk, Northallerton, and Yafforth command an ancient road leading from York to the north ; Richmond and Killerby dominated part of the great Roman road from Aldborough to Piercebridge; Middleham was on an ancient road leading from Skipton via Coverdale ; Pickhill was veniently close to two ancient roads; Skelton commanded a Roman road leading from the Tees' mouth to Dunsley Bay; Crayke was close to another ancient road; Whorlton was only two miles from a Roman branch road leading to Yarm. The reason of this proximity to then existing roads is not far to seek. As a general rule the Conqueror was careful to scatter the estates granted to his tenants-in-capite, and the great barons took the same precaution with regard to their own feudatories. It was, therefore, essential that these castles should be placed conveniently near a road, which would enable their occupiers
easily to visit their estates in different parts of the country. Although there would appear to have been no organised system of national or even of county defence in the selection of the sites of these castles—their founders appear simply to have erected them on the places most convenient to themselves they are all more or less linked up by then existing roads.
Another point we cannot fail to notice is how frequently they are placed on the banks of a river or beck. On the banks of the Swale were the three important castles of Richmond, Topcliffe, and Killerby; Easby, Castle Levington, and Kildale are on the Leven ; Buttercrambe and Malton on the Derwent ; Castleton on the Esk; Helmsley on the Rye; Middleham on the Ure; Cotherston on the Tees; Foss on the Sandsend Beck ; Yafforth on the Wiske; Thirsk on the Cod Beck; Cropton on a promontory overlooking the river Seven ; Pickering commands a gorge of the beck of that name; Skelton is close to the Skelton Beck; Kilton on a bold promontory above the beck of that name.
Another point we cannot fail to notice is how frequently the earthworks which mark the sites of our Norman castles are close to a church, often of approximately the same date as the fortress. This is the case at Skelton, Cropton, Helmsley, Kildale, Malton, Pickhill, Sheriff Hutton, Thirsk, and Whorlton, and at the more doubtful castles of Catterick and Feliskirk. Sometimes, as at Skelton and Whorlton, and, to a certain extent, at Pickhill, Kildale, and Sheriff Hutton, the church stands upon and, as it were, forms part of the outer line of defence. It is seldom we find a Norman castle on
a very elevated site; Easby is an exception, being nearly 600 feet above sea level, whilst the doubtful castle of Carlton-in-Coverdale is no less than 900 feet above sea level.
When we come to attempt to reconstruct” these fortresses we are met with many difficulties. It is, of course, unnecessary to say that no such thing as an earth - and - timber castle has existed for many centuries, and in our efforts to reconstruct" them we are dependent entirely upon the scanty contemporary evidence we possess with regard to them, and the application of that evidence to the earthworks which now mark their sites.
Let us deal with the mottes first. The Bayeux Tapestry depicts the mottes existing towards the commencement of the last quarter of the eleventh century at the castles of Bayeux, Dinan, Dol, and Rennes. These pictures are, of course, very
crude, but they convey a good deal of valuable contemporary evidence. All show a timber palisade running round the outer edge of the summit of the motte, enclosing a wooden tower or keep. A ditch, with counterscarp bank, runs round the base of the motte, and from the counterscarp bank rises a wooden bridge or ladder, leading upwards across the ditch to a platform projecting from the stockade on the motte summit. These keeps, which are obviously of timber, are apparently square ; but at Bayeux and Rennes are surmounted by a cupola roof. They are battlemented, and are very picturesque in appearance, with oak gargoyles projecting at the angles.
Lambert of Ardres, writing about 1190,1 gives us a description of one of these keeps, that erected at Ardres, about 1100, by the master - carpenter, Louis of Bourbourg, for Arnould, lord of Ardres. This tower, which was three storeys in height, evidently had a smaller tower attached to it. The means of entry from the court on the summit of the motte was probably by a ladder or flight of steps leading up to the first floor level.3 The ground floor of the main tower was used entirely for stores, " where were store rooms and granaries, and huge boxes, tuns, casks, and other household utensils "'; that of the smaller tower probably contained pig-sties, hen-houses, etc. On the first floor of the main tower was the great hall, or common living room of the household. Out of the dais end of the hall
. opened the solar or “great chamber, in which the lord and his wife slept"; the dormitory of the waiting maids and children, and a small room or recess, opening out of the solar, “where at early dawn or in the evening, or during sickness or at time of blood letting, or for warming the maids and weaned children, they used to have a fire.” At the lower end of the great hall was the buttery and pantry, and between them a short passage communicating with the kitchen, which was, apparently, on the first floor of the smaller tower. On the second floor of the great tower were three apartments, “garret rooms,” evidently contained in the high-pitched roof; “in which on the one side the sons of the house (when they wished it), on the other side the daughters of the house (because they were obliged), used to sleep.” The third room was used by the garrison and menservants of the castle, where they took their sleep at some time or other ”—apparently as their duties permitted. On the eastern side of the main tower was apparently another projection, but whether this commenced at the ground level, or was supported by uprights, is not very clear. On the first floor level of this projection was the logium or parlour, probably principally used in the summer months, where they used to sit in conversation for recreation ”; above it was the chapel, evidently entered from the second floor level, a room which
i Lambert of Ardres. Extracts in Bouquet, Recueil des historiens.
? In these early days the mastercarpenter was an important individual. We are told (Hutchin's Dorset, i, 488) that a certain Durand, the carpenter, held the manor of Mouldham, near Corfe, by the service of providing a carpenter
to maintain in repair the timber keep at Corfe Castle.
3 The writer understands that even at the stone palace of Richmond Castle the steps leading up from the low stone platform to the entrance door of the great hall were of timber.
was made like unto the Tabernacle of Solomon in its ceiling and decoration.” Possibly it is the cupola roof of such a chapel which is shown in the Bayeux Tapestry at the keeps of Bayeux and Rennes. “ There were stairs and passages from storey to storey, from the house into the kitchen, from room to room, and again from the house into the logium.”
If we draw a plan of such a tower, giving only moderate dimensions to the apartments, and if we remember that its angles must have stood clear of the stockade and its accompanying fighting platform, we shall probably conclude that the motte on which it was placed could not have been less than 150 feet in diameter. Obviously these great timber keeps were no make-shift structures designed to exist only until the motte was sufficiently consolidated to bear a stone edifice. Their builders probably never contemplated the possibility of the future existence of a stone tower.
The great disadvantage of these timber towers was their liability to be destroyed by fire, and to partially obviate this danger there is no doubt that the cooking was done, at any rate during the summer months, in the little courtyard on the summit of the motte. Indeed, all our evidence goes to show that the habits and method of life of the Anglo-Normans were much more primitive than we have been led to imagine.1
The keep would be provided with turrets and battlements, and at convenient points crates of stones would be placed to be used as missiles against an enemy. We may almost
1 When the fine oval motte at Burtonin-Lonsdale was excavated, it was found that the courts of both the motte and the bailey were paved with rough stones, chosen haphazard and varying in shape and size, bedded in stiff clas. On this rude pavement were found traces of fires and a quantity of wood ashes, together with bones of animals used for food, many iron implements, such as knives
and arrow heads, an axe, a large key, and half a human jaw. Everything pointed to the cooking having been habitually done in the courtyards, and the excavation greatly strengthened the theory that domestic manners in the days of the Normans were primitive in the extreme (see the Trans., Cumb. and West. Antiq. Soc. (1905), 284).