Castle Hill, Easby

From a distance Castle Hill is barely a ripple on the flatlands of the Vale of Cleveland. Now dominated by mature trees, it would, in the 12th-century, have commanded fine views and overlooked any movement on the King’s road from Stokesley to Whitby that passed the foot of the eminence on which the castle stood.

Not that there was ever a castle built of stone and mortar here. This was a motte and bailey castle; a raised mound called a motte topped a wooden keep and surrounded by a bailey or ditch. Because Easby castle stood on the edge of a steep, almost precipitous, 60m slope, which would have provided good defence from the south-east, its motte was horseshoe shaped, about 45m across and 2 to 2½ metres high1Historicengland.org.uk. (2012). Easby castle motte, Easby – 1008208 | Historic England. [online] Available at: https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1008208 [Accessed 9 Nov. 2021].. It is thought the bailey was about 5m wide and again horseshoe shaped.

It has always been thought that Bernhard Balliol, Lord of the manor of Easby, ordered the castle to be built possibly as a watch-tower or temporary stockaded refuge in time of strife2Historicengland.org.uk. (2012). Easby castle motte, Easby – 1008208 | Historic England. [online] Available at: https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1008208 [Accessed 9 Nov. 2021].. However, in an archaeological survey in 2018, although medieval pottery was found, nothing was found in the actual ditch, suggesting a much older date, Iron Age or earlier3 Available at: https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=2065182867107363&id=1764080427217610 [Accessed 9 Nov. 2021]..

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