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Historic England Research Records

Fairies Hill

Hob Uid: 52725
Location :
Wakefield
Non Civil Parish
Grid Ref : SE3978524893
Summary : Natural mound allegedly utilised as a motte, the mound was scheduled but was then re-interpreted as a coal spoil heap and descheduled.Part of thesite was included an evaluation excavation by Archaeological Services of the West Yorkshire Archaeology Service (ASWYAS) in 2006. The excavation of the edge of the mound revealed that it is made of earth rather than coal spoil and this prompted a request to reconsider the scheduling of the mound as a medieval motte.John Leland, writing in the 1540s, described a castle near Whitwood: "There I sawe in an enclosid pasture ground the diches and hilles of an old castelle hard apon the ripe of the Calder river"¬. His account is vague about the location of the castle, but it has been linked to Fairies Hill because the mound has been regarded as the most likely candidate surviving in the area. A sherd of 12th century pottery has also been found in the vicinity. The September 2006 evaluation excavations did not produce any artefacts or dating evidence, however the southern edge of the mound was revealed to be constructed of horizontal layers of earth with no evidence of coal waste, although the land immediately to the south was shown to be covered in at least 2.4m of overburden including coal mining waste, probably derived from the nearby Whitworth Colliery. Comparison between the 1852 and modern maps indicates that the mound has at least doubled in size since the mid-19th century, now extending more to the north and east than originally shown. Unfortunately the excavation trench was sited where the 1852 and modern map depictions of the mound coincide. Consequently the evaluation did not shed light on the apparent late 19th-20th century enlargement of the mound. The site was assessed in 2012 but was not Scheduled.
More information : A motte, now only 22 ft high, with faint trace of a ditch round it, and a small brook to the south which may have been utilized for the bailey ditch, are all that remains of Castle Hill, Ferry Hill, on Fairy Mount. The site, by the Calder at Whitwood, is partly occupied by a mineral railway. (1)

"Fairies Hill", a large mound at SE 3986 2489 answers the description above, but appears to be entirely natural. There is certainly no trace of a ditch round it now. (2)

SE 397 249 Fairies Hill motte, Whitwood. Scheduled. (3)

SE 3978 2489. Fairies Hill motte, Whitwood. De-Scheduled. (4)

Fairies Hill was originally scheduled as a medieval motte on 29 May 1974. It was subsequently descheduled on 25 January 1993 on the grounds that, following reassessment, it was considered to be a spoil heap or the result of recent land clearance. In September 2006, evaluation excavations were made (by the Archaeological Services of the West Yorkshire Archaeological Service) of the mound and its immediate context. The excavation of the edge of the mound revealed that it is made of earth rather than coal spoil and this prompted a request to reconsider the scheduling of the mound as a medieval motte.

John Leland, writing in the 1540s, described a castle near Whitwood: “There I sawe in an enclosid pasture ground the diches and hilles of an old castelle hard apon the ripe of the Calder river‮ His account is vague about the location of the castle, but it has been linked to Fairies Hill because the mound has been regarded as the most likely candidate surviving in the area. A sherd of C12 pottery has also been found in the vicinity. The September 2006 evaluation excavations did not produce any artefacts or dating evidence, however the southern edge of the mound was revealed to be constructed of horizontal layers of earth with no evidence of coal waste, although the land immediately to the south was shown to be covered in at least 2.4m of overburden including coal mining waste, probably derived from the nearby Whitworth Colliery. Comparison between the 1852 and modern maps indicates that the mound has at least doubled in size since the mid-19th century, now extending more to the north and east than originally shown. Unfortunately the excavation trench was sited where the 1852 and modern map depictions of the mound coincide. Consequently the evaluation did not shed light on the apparent late 19th-20th century enlargement of the mound.

The site was assessed for listing in 2012, but did not meet the criteria for addition to the Schedule for the following reasons:
Interpretation: there is an insufficient level of certainty over the positive identification of the mound as a motte castle.
Survival: the evidence of considerable amounts of earth moving in the area suggests that there is a high potential that medieval deposits, if they exist, will have been disturbed, particularly any evidence of an associated bailey.

This assessment should however be reviewed if further information comes to light that confirms the interpretation that the mound is a motte and that it has not been truncated. (5)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : The Victoria history of the county of York, volume two
Source details : (E S Armitage)
Page(s) : 42
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 1912
Source Number : 2
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 RWE 13-NOV-63
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Source Number : 3
Source : County list of Scheduled Ancient Monuments : December 1987
Source details : W Yorks
Page(s) : 9
Figs. :
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 4
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : English Heritage De-Scheduling Amendment 27/1/93
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Source Number : 5
Source : UDS Non-Designation case
Source details :
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Monument Types:
Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : WY 1163 (DeSched)
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Unified Designation System UID
External Cross Reference Number : 463481
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SE 32 SE 15
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON SE 32 SE 15
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1963-11-13
End Date : 1963-11-13