I lived in Ingleton in North Yorkshire for over eighteen years, moving to Kendal in 1991. For a number of years, I commuted to work in Kendal, and travelled through three counties every day; North Yorkshire, Lancashire and into Cumbria. I never took much notice of the heritage that existed in these three counties, especially so close to mum and dad's house in Ingleton.

On shopping trips to Lancaster, I'd often noticed the strange shaped hill by the road side as we drove out of Burton in Lonsdale towards Lancaster, never imagining the history behind it.

My dad was born in Melling, and little did I know of the history hidden behind the church in the village. Other villages on the back roads from Kirkby Lonsdale to Hornby also held little known treasures. So it was with glee that I finally discovered these historical sites in July of this year.

I set myself a steep target one day: to find and photograph six motte and bailey castles. These were situated in Hornby, Kirkby Lonsdale, Arkholme, Melling, Whittington and Burton in Lonsdale. Once again I used the English Heritage web site to find some additional information about the sites and to obtain the maps to help me find them.

Now.if you've not seen many or any motte and bailey castles I'll tell you now, they can be very obvious historical sites.or else you have to use some imagination to work out what you're looking at. Luckily, as it turned out, all the sites bar Whittington were really obvious.

The term motte and bailey refers to; the mound of earth upon which a wooden or stone tower was usually built; the motte, and a courtyard usually set at the foot of the motte; the bailey. Earth work castles seem to have come in two distinct types; mottes and ringworks. Motte castles, usually had a mound and at least one bailey or courtyard, whilst ring works usually consisted of an enclosure surrounded by a defensive network of mounds and ditches and stood in relative isolation.

The motte, of a motte and bailey castle, was usually a man made mound of earth, surrounded by a ditch, and connected to the bailey or the courtyard by a bridge or earthen causeway. The motte was the defensive core of the castle, towering over the rest of the site with a wooden tower built on its summit. Many motte and bailey castles had their wooden towers later replaced with stone buildings. The bailey was usually a well defended courtyard, sometimes raised above the surrounding land, which contained houses and livestock enclosures. The bailey was usually defended by palisades, ditches and earthworks. Some castles even had more than one bailey, though only one of the castles I'll look at later fall into this category. There are even instances of some motte and bailey castles appearing to be built with no motte, although it's probable that these were temporary look out posts, or incomplete castles.

Motte and bailey castles were built by the Norman invaders after they invaded in 1066. Up until that point, there was little or no castle building in England. The Normans constructed these sites as administrative centres for their newly acquired kingdom, and as a way of barracking troops to maintain control over local populations.

Kirkby Lonsdale, Cockpit Hill: The first castle I decided to try and find was in Kirkby Lonsdale. Having visited Kirkby many times since I was a small child, I was curious to see why this castle was so hard to find information about, and never mentioned in the tourism press. Parking up in the village centre, I made my way up towards the church. I was heading toward the Ruskin walk, which runs along the top of the embankment next to the river. Judging by my map, the castle, or its remains, were sandwiched between the path and a small cemetery. I had only walked about a hundred yards, when I saw the mound peering over the wall. It is very overgrown now, and somewhat damaged on the river side. It now resides within the garden of what I think is the vicarage, and has at some point in the past been used as a cock pit (hence the name given to it by the locals of Cockpit Hill!!) There is now no sign of the bailey.this has probably been either built on, or is now being used as the cemetery.

The castle is fairly non-descript, to the point in fact, that if you didn't know that this was the remains of the castle, it could be a builder's rubbish heap, or simply a natural mound of earth. The castle was reputedly built by Ivo De Taillebois, the first Baron of Kendal, in around 1092. It forms part of the defensive line of castles built along the river Lune, incorporating the others at Melling, Arkholme, Whittington and Hornby.

The motte is in a pretty poor condition, and is even in danger of being eroded by the river as Ruskin's Brow on which it sits, is gradually worn away by the river Lune below it.

Scouring the internet, there seems only to be brief mentions of this castle, hence the little information I have to offer here. I'm happy to say that I have now visited this site, and come away with a photographic record. It may not be the most exciting site, but none-the-less, it's there and in need of some loving care and attention.

Whittington Motte and bailey: Now, I chose to start at Kirkby Lonsdale, because it was fairly central for all the sites I was trying to find. My next port of call, was the motte and bailey in Whittington. I left Kirkby Lonsdale, and set off down the B6254. About 2 miles down the road, I turned off the main road and towards the church of St Michael the Archangel. The mostly 15th century church is built over the top of the castle remains, and the motte is only just visible as a slight mound upon which a grave yard has been laid out.

The bailey and it's ditches and earthwork defences are no longer visible due to both the church and the grave yard being built on and around them. The low motte is around 50 metres in diameter, and around 12 metres high at its tallest point (topped by a sundial!) The whole site stands about 11 metres above meadows to the south of the site, perhaps enhancing the defensive aspects of the castle. It is believed that a church has stood on this site since the 1200's, although the current building dates from the end of the 15th century.

I have spent many hours investigating this castle on the internet, but have not managed to find much if any information regarding its age, its builders or any associated history. At least I've now got a photographic record of it!!

Arkholme, Chapel Hill: Returning to my car, I headed back onto the B6254 and towards the village of Arkholme about five miles further down the road. The 12th century castle at Arkholme sits, like Whittington, within the grounds of the 15th century church of St John the Baptist. It also sits right next to the river, which probably acted as a defensive barrier back in its heyday.

The motte is really well defined, incredibly so in fact. As you enter the church yard, the motte sits behind the church in a corner, grassed over and in excellent condition. It stands around 6 metres tall and about 30 metres around its base. The bailey is no longer in evidence, although the footpath that runs the other side of the church yard wall, could well be running in the remains of the defensive ditch . I was pretty amazed at the size of the motte compared to the tiny church. Unfortunately, as with Whittington, there appears to be little information about this motte, other than its size, height and condition. I have managed to find out that the castle has been excavated, and that there appears to have been two periods of building. It appears that the original castle was some 2 and half metres smaller than the mound that survives today, but beyond this, there is no history to tell. I took the required photos from as many angles as I could. This was a well defined motte and deserved my attention. When I was finished, I decided to head on to the next site. I drove all the way back to Kirkby Lonsdale, turned right onto the A65, and then right again onto the A683, destination.Melling.

Melling, Castle Mount: Travelling through Melling, a small village in Lancashire, the church of St Wilfrid's lays on your left hand side. The church was built in the 13th century, and vastly rebuilt and redesigned right up until the late 19th century. It has suffered serious damage at the hands of invading Scottish armies.

If you park up, and walk into the church yard, you notice that the grave yard begins to slope upwards towards the boundary wall. This slight raise in the earth towards the back of the church yard may well be all that is left of the castle's bailey. If you look over the wall, into the Vicarage gardens, the motte sits in the middle of the garden. It is about 6 metres tall, and extremely overgrown. There are a couple of well established trees sprouting from the body of the motte. Unfortunately, the earthwork remains have been severley damaged by landscape gardening around the base, but on the whole, it's in good condition.

As with Arkholme and Whittington, Melling motte is situated right next to the church. It is suggested that in all three instances, the churches were built on the baileys, and may at some stage, have been manorial chapels\churches built for the express use of the owners and occupiers of the respective castles. This would adequately explain the lack of any discernable bailey at each site. The motte measures around 38 metres in diameter, and is around 6 metres tall, although the mound is higher when measured from the lowest point in the church yard.

It is interesting to note, that the castle, included here as one of those built in a defensive line along the River Lune, is no longer near to the river. According to research I've done on the internet, there is evidence to suggest that the river's course has altered greatly over the last 700 years, and that when the castle was being used in the 12th or 13th centuries, it was nearer to the river side.

I was only able to catch a few photos of the motte from the churchyard, as it's on private property, so my time here was brief. My next target is my favourite motte and bailey site to date..that of Hornby, Castle Stede.

Hornby, Castle Stede: Travelling South again on the A683, I headed back towards Lancaster. Just as you enter Hornby, there is a turning to your right, which takes you down towards the river, heading out towards Gressingham. You can safely park in the lay by once you've crossed the bridge. Once you're parked up, head back across the bridge again, and turn left through the stile in the wall. The footpath takes you up a grass embankment, and straight into the bailey of the castle. This is the largest by far, of any of the sites I visited that day. The site is widely regarded as the best preserved example of a motte and bailey castle in Lancashire, and it's easy to see why.

As you enter the bailey, which lays to the west side of the motte, you cross a recently added earthen walk way. The bailey is huge, estimated at around two and a quarter acres. This portion of the site is apparently built on the site of an iron age hill fort, and its position over looking a bend in the river, must have offered excellent defensive qualities. To the north and the west of the bailey, are well defined ditches and earthworks, marking the site out incredibly well. The motte, which stands some 15 metres tall, is surrounded by a ditch to all sides, except where it slopes off towards the river below it. The castle was built in the early days of the 12th century, but was abandoned some time later, possibly in the late 13th century, when the nearby castle in Hornby was built as a direct replacement by the Longuevillers family. The earthwork remains were put to use during the second world war, when a pill box was situated on the embankment over looking the road bridge.

The motte is very overgrown, with some well established trees growing from its sides. A great deal of work appears to have been done to the motte to stabilise it. It is pitted with rabbit holes, and therefore fenced off.however the foot path runs all the way round it affording excellent views. I've taken a great many photos of this site, and will probably revisit at some point to take some distance photos now that I have a zoom camera.

Right.last castle of the day, and that was back towards Hornby, and then left onto the A683. Next destination, Burton in Lonsdale.

Burton in Lonsdale, Castle Hill: Turning right after Wrayton, I travelled for around four miles on the A687 towards Burton in Lonsdale in North Yorkshire. You can't fail to notice the motte and bailey remains on the right hand side of the road as you drive through this large Yorkshire village. It's unusual double peaked summit is referred to as a breastwork structure.for obvious reasons. The castle was built on the site of a ringwork enclosure, the motte and the baileys (as there are two) being placed within the original defensive site.

The ringwork site was constructed in the late 12th century, and then modified into the structure we see today in the early part of the 13th century. The huge motte, stands around ten metres tall, with the breastwork' structure adding a further three metres to its height. This castle site has two baileys attached to it. The largest, which sits to the west of the motte, measures some fifty eight metres by fifty metres, and is square in shape. The second, is around 21 metres at its widest point and is a semi lunar shape, and sits to the south of the motte. The baileys are defined by both feint and well defined earthworks, ditches and mounds. According to local records, the castle fell out of use sometime between 1322 and 1369, when it stopped being mentioned in local taxation records. The castle and its earthworks were well excavated and investigated in 1904, and it was found that both the motte and the baileys were at some point paved. Once again, although there's much information regarding when the castle was built, its size and condition, there's no mention of who built it, and for what purpose. This is despite many hours of research on the internet!

Happily, I'd managed to complete my task. All the sites had been found and photographed, and the subsequent photos have been added to my ever growing library. It's sad that the site at Hornby is the only one of the six visited that really has any tourism value to it. It's the only one that is easy to get to, has a footpath running through the bailey and around the base of the motte, and has parking nearby!! The other sites are either tucked away in church yards, or are on private land, like Burton in Lonsdale and Melling. I would definitely recommend looking for these castles thoughif nothing else, you get to visit some of the most beautiful villages the area has to offer, and it's all off the beaten track.

There are no hoards of tourists to contend with, just quiet countryside and time to contemplate. But as usualmy one piece of advice isdon't forget your camera!!

The best part of these trips, is the remembering' later on! Happy hunting.