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CastleUK Blog 2013

Castle UK May Blog 2013 PageThis is the place where I record and then archive my monthly updates and what's new in our hunt for castles UK.

In May CastleUk joined Facebook, here's the link, we don't know what you do but we're doing something The cover photo will be the wallpaper of the month, so that will change and like this month, we'll add pictures of the castles we visit when hunting, so that'll be a great addition to this blog. We hope you will let us know what this Facebook is all about?

We had a two day castle hunt in May, on the way to and then east of Ripon, pictures on Facebook.
We stayed at the Bay Horse Country Inn, Rainton, it's a great place and we stop on Wednesday and Thursday night, knowing that it's steak and then it's ribs night.
We headed up the M1 to junction 47 to find Steeton Hall, a small well-preserved 14th century manorial gatehouse, before moving on to Sherburn in Elmet to find Hall Garth, a high status Archbishops manor house or palace which was subsequently used as a hunting lodge. It just consists of a number of earthworks but even from the higher ground of the churchyard, it's hard to see, so I take my pictures and we move east to Manor Garth, Rest Park. We walk down the footpath to the site of another palace or fortified manor house of the Archbishops of York, who were licensed in 1382 to build a fortlettum for defence of the manor, it's now only visible as the slightest of crop marks on air photos, so there's nothing to see here but I still take a couple of pictures.
Cawood not far away, so we go to see the Castle Garth and Archbishop Kempe's mid 15th century gatehouse, with its attached former great hall, again a residence of the Archbishops of York and it was here that Cardinal Wolsey was dramatically arrested for treason on King Henry VIIIs orders. It's a Landmark Trust building so you can stay in the gatehouse, how good is that, it's also another Garth and we wondered what the word meant (it stems from an old Norse word that means enclosed ground or space used as a courtyard or paddock), well now we know.
We turn back heading west, to find Barwick in Elmet with it's standing maypole, also there are the remains of a large Iron Age univallate hillfort and a large 12th century earthwork motte and bailey castle. The hillfort enclosed the tops of two adjacent hills, Wendel Hill and Hall Tower Hill but the castle only occupies the inside of the hillfort on Hall Tower Hill. We head north to Bardsey Castle Hill, here are the remains of a motte and part of the surrounding bailey, the earthwork motte is of an unusual form, consisting of two roughly rectangular platforms joined by a central causeway. Excavations on the motte have located a stone keep and pottery dating to the late 12th, early 13th century, this was the last castle of the day, so it on to Ripon for Castle Spotter shopping.
Next day we head east to Helmsley, revisiting great castle sites and if you fancy a hunt up north it's not a bad one to take. Helmsley it's a massive early 12th century ringwork encased by double ditches and double ditched always get my heart pumping, there's nothing small about Helmsley Castle. Standing on a rocky outcrop overlooking the River Rye, it's also a 12th to 14th century stone castle and a 16th century mansion house but it was slighted after the Civil War.
We move on to Kirkbymoorside and it's 2 castle sites, this small market town is lovely, we like Kirkbymoorside, first up are the remains of a roughly rectangular moated manor house on Vivers Hill. Dominating the church and town, it's a good size and by 1200, it was inhabited by the Stuteville family. Not far to the north-west are the buried and standing remains of Neville Castle, a late medieval hunting lodge, which is believed to have replaced the manor house on Vivier's Hill. There's an information panel and a high wall fragment standing to the west of the path that leads from the end of Castlegate Lane along the side of Manor Vale.
Next it's the reason for, the castle site that sowed the seed, along with The Castles of England by Frederick Wilkinson, the book that took us there. Published in 1973, the book was already over 20 years old when I bought it, cutting edge in its time and for the castle hunter there wasn't a lot more to buy. Cropton Castle, Cropton, North Riding, Yorkshire, to the west of the church lies a triangular bailey with a large motte, at the west end; there are traces of the foundations of a large hall, is all you are told. Now off you go and buy 204 Ordnance Survey Landranger Series maps because your lost without them, map 100 will show you where Cropton, the church, without tower, spire, minaret or dome and castle (remains of) are, which is lucky because a lot of castle sites aren't marked on the maps. It was here we 'kicked stones' for the first time, kicking the grass to uncover stonework, trying to work out the layout of castle, it's fun and a lot better than looking round the big castle sites. On the way out we visit the New Inn, it's got food, drink and accommodation plus its own brewery, it's just after mid day and its so full we have to sit at the bar.
Last stop is Pickering, I first get more pictures of Beacon Hill, an early 13th century earth and timber ringwork siege castle, built in the minority of King Henry III, when Pickering Castle was besieged by supporters of Prince Louis of France. We then have a look around the market town, before visiting the 11th century earthwork motte and bailey fortress, with its 13th century shell keep, walls and towers, it's a great way to end any hunt.

For more information, click on the pictures.

Dunstanburgh Castle OS 75/NU 257-218 Northumberland England WallpaperDunstanburgh Castle, OS 75/NU 257-218 Northumberland England Wallpaper, is my June wallpaper and the picture was taken in January 2013, the view is looking east at Lilburn Tower, which overlooks Embleton beach and Gull Crag.
Standing on a remote headland and built on the most magnificent scale, Earl Thomas of Lancaster founded the fortress in 1313 when relations between King Edward II and his most powerful baron Lancaster, had become openly hostile. The latest archaeological research indicates that the castle was built on a far grander scale than was recognized, perhaps more as a symbol of his opposition to the king than as a military stronghold.
 Hastings CastleHastings Castle, OS 199/TQ 821-094 Sussex England.
Was originally an earth and timber post-Conquest fortress, founded in 1066 by William of Normandy. Later an earthwork motte was added in-between the two baileys and the eastern bailey called Ladies Parlour, still retains part of its impressive rampart and the Conqueror's Ditch. In 1075, Robert, count of Eu, founded the Collegiate Church of St Mary-in-the-Castle and in the late 12th century, a great tower was also erected, in the west bailey. The site is owned by Hastings Borough Council and is open daily, April to September 10:00-5:00pm October 10:00-4:00pm, the eastern bailey called Ladies Parlour and the Conqueror's Ditch are freely accessible in daylight hours.
This historically important castle offers fantastic panoramic views and on a sunny day there's no better place to be. Take the West Hill Lift built in 1891, one of Hastings two Cliff Railways, it's a nice way to get to the top.
 Site of one of the SeagatesSeagate, Hastings Old Town, OS 199/TQ 823-095 Sussex England.
The western Seagate was originally one of three stone late 14th century gates, known collectively as the Seagates. Stretching across the mouth of the Bourne valley from the base of Hastings Castle to the East Cliff, a late 14th century stone wall once protected the Old Town of Hastings from the sea. The site of the Seagate is freely accessible in daylight hours, well it would be it's at the bottom of the High Street in Hastings Old Town. A blue plaque proclaims that 'To the east of this spot was the great Seagate erected about 1385'. On East Street a plaque proclaims that 'At the rear of these dwellings may be seen parts of the Town Wall which extended across this valley, erected probably in the 14th century'.
I've looked for Hastings Town Wall many times, the clues are there in the form of two plaques, the Seagate has gone the plaque says that but the other plaque says parts of the Town Wall may be seen but therein lies the rub, where?
In September 2007, there was an archaeological watching brief during groundwork's associated with the construction of a new dwelling in Winding Street. Foundation trenches for four walls were excavated and one trench revealed the north facing section of the Hastings Town Wall and the dig was successful in proving that the Town Wall survives to a width of 2.5 to 2.8 metres and is in a good condition. But this is below the ground, so you can't see it, Images of England shows a picture of the wall taken in 2000, between Winding Street and John Street but it looks like it's in a garden and it's only the face of the wall. My picture is the only bit of possible wall I can find, is it too high, it looks old, it's totally out of place with what's around it, it's in Winding Street, it could be part of a building? Next visit to Hastings I'll go on the hunt again to find John Street and that bit of wall facing, it never ends.

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