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Historic England Research Records

Middleham Castle

Hob Uid: 26021
Location :
County Durham
Bishop Middleham
Grid Ref : NZ3273231017
Summary : Earthwork remains of a medieval manor house, probably the residence of the Bishops of Durham between the 12th-14th centuries. Defensive site, located on a promontory, and surviving as a series of earthworks and masonry fragments. The earthworks consist of banks, ditches, an extractive pit, enclosures, a circular enclosure, pits and boundary banks.
More information : NZ 3274 3104 Middleham Castle (NR) (Remains of) (NAT) (1)

"The site of the castle of Middleham is on a bold promontory, approximately in the shape of an isosceles triangle, projecting southwards from the high ridge on which the church [NZ 33 NW 21] is built. The apex of the triangle is to the north, and the sides of the promontory slope steeply to the level ground on the east, south and west, and show little traces of scarping except perhaps on the south, where, at the foot of the slope, a ditch runs east and west. The lines of the walls of a large building show in the turf at the south end of the site, and here and there the masonry is exposed. The position is a very strong one, the only easy approach being from the north, at the apex of the triangle". A `Class G' earthwork. (2)

The Castle of Middleham, a strong, well guarded manor house, was a principal residence of the Bishops of Durham from the Conquest till the end of the 14th century. At the time of Hatfield's Survey (1349-50) the demesne was on lease. No description of the castle is given in Hatfield's or any other survey. The last remaining part, a low oblong arched room, was removed several years before 1823. Except for this, it is not known when was the period of final destruction or regular dismantling. An old barn, across the road to the north may have formed part of the castle offices. (3)

The manor house at Bishop Middleham was probably used as the bishop's residence from the 12th-14th century. Bishop Pudsey may have had a house thereabout 1183 (a). Bishop Philip De Poitou (1197-1208) certainly stayed at Middleham (b). Bishop Louis Beaumont [d 1333] built a kitchen and began a new hall and chapel (c). The Manor house or site of the manor was sold in 1649 (d). The house was probably then in ruins. There was a fishpond, mentioned in 1313 (e) which was probably on the marshy ground immediately below the house to the south. (4)

Additional references - Notes only. (5)

[Centred NZ 3274 3104] The remains of Middleham Castle consist of a series of banks and ditches forming small enclosures while here and there small fragments of masonry protrude through the turf. The maximum height of banks is 0.8 m. The remains have been mutilated by the construction of two silage pits. One of these pits utilises an original wall which has a maximum height of 1.2 m. The remaining retaining walls of the pits have been built of loose masonry, probably from the site. The whole areas is under pasture. The earthworks have been incorrectly shown or omitted on OS 25" (6a). None of the farm buildings to the N of the site show any trace of antiquity. To the S of the high ground on which the castle stood are faint traces of a ditch, but whether its purpose was defensive could not be ascertained. (6)

Surveyed on A M. (7)

The site at Middleham Castle is generally as described by Geary, though it is now heavily overgrown and the outline can only be distinguished with difficulty. For the sites of fishponds and the
course of a possible enclosure wall, see illustration card.
Published survey (1:2500) revised. (8)

Existing survey revised by RCHME during a project on scheduled monuments in County Durham.
As described by Authority 6. The earthworks and fragments of masonry indicate the presence of a number of buildings or chambers: those towards the south of the site consist largely of robber trenches and the debris therefrom. None of the earthworks stand much over 0.3 m high and most are very slight and indistinct. There are surrounding earthworks on the lower ground to the west, south and east, mainly quarries, tracks, ridge-and-furrow and boundary banks. The tracks show some chronological depth, with some elements cutting and overlying other elements, but all seem to be connected with the extensive quarrying which occurs most of the way round the hillside. The fishpond mentioned by Authority 4 may be the extant pond 150 m west of the manor house site though this area too has been disturbed by quarrying. (9)

Listed by Cathcart King. (10)

The site described by authorities 1-10 has been mapped for the Durham Magnesian Limestone Durham NMP project. The earthworks consist of banks, ditches, an extractive pit, enclosures, a circular enclosure, pits and boundary banks, the site is centred at NZ 3272 3101.
(11)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6" map 1923
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Source Number : 2
Source : The Victoria history of the county of Durham, volume one
Source details :
Page(s) : 357
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Source Number : 6
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 EG/29-JUL-1954/OS Archaeology Division Field Investigator
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Source Number : 6a
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 25" map 1939
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Source Number : 7
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F2 FDColquhoun/20-JUN-1959/OS Archaeology Division Field Investigator
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Source Number : 8
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F3 ISSainsbury/18-JUN-1980/OS Archaeology Division Field Investigator
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Source Number : 9
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : Mark Bowden/15-AUG-1991/RCHME: Durham SAMs Project
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Source Number : 10
Source : Castellarium anglicanum : an index and bibliography of the castles in England, Wales and the islands. Volume I : Anglesey - Montgomery
Source details :
Page(s) : 134
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Source Number : 11
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : RAF 106G/UK/1038 5080 27-NOV-1945
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Source : Middleham Castle/ink survey
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Source : Middleham Castle/pencil survey
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Source Number : 3
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Surtees R 1823 History of Durham Vol 3 pp1-4
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Source Number : 4
Source : The Victoria history of the county of Durham, volume three
Source details : M Curtis
Page(s) : 204
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Source Number : 4a
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Boldon Book (Surtees Soc) 12 51
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Source Number : 4b
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Feod Prior Dunelm 250 301
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Source Number : 4c
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Hist Dunelm Script Tres (Surtees Soc) (119)
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Source Number : 4d
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Close 1649 Pt 12 No 15
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Source Number : 4e
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Reg Palat Dunelm (Rolls Ser) i 480
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Source Number : 5
Source : Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne
Source details :
Page(s) : 89-90
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Vol(s) : 10, 1901

Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : C12-C14
Monument End Date : 1399
Monument Start Date : 1100
Monument Type : Fortified Manor House, Bishops Palace, Enclosure, Bank (Earthwork), Ditch, Boundary Bank, Circular Enclosure, Extractive Pit, Pit, Fishpond, Kitchen, Chapel
Evidence : Earthwork, Sub Surface Deposit, Documentary Evidence

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : DU 77
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Durham)
External Cross Reference Number : 1117
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : NZ 33 SW 19
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON NZ 33 SW 18
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1954-07-29
End Date : 1954-07-29
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON NZ 33 SW 18
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1959-06-20
End Date : 1959-06-20
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON NZ 33 SW 18
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1980-06-18
End Date : 1980-06-18
Associated Activities : Primary, RCHME: DURHAM SAMS PROJECT
Activity type : MEASURED SURVEY
Start Date : 1991-06-01
End Date : 1991-12-01
Associated Activities : Primary, FOURMARTS LANE, BISHOP MIDDLEHAM
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1994-01-01
End Date : 1994-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, MIDDLEHAM CASTLE
Activity type : GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1998-01-01
End Date : 1998-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, ENGLISH HERITAGE: DURHAM ASSESSMENT OF ARCHAEOLOGICAL RESOURCE IN AGGREGATE AREAS NMP PROJECT.
Activity type : AERIAL PHOTOGRAPH INTERPRETATION
Start Date : 2006-03-30
End Date : 2007-01-16