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Historic England Research Records

Helmsley Castle

Hob Uid: 58805
Location :
North Yorkshire
Ryedale
Helmsley
Grid Ref : SE6106783679
Summary : The ruins of Helmsley Castle, which comprise a formidable double ditch, hewn from solid rock on the west side, surrounding an oblong inner bailey; the castle evolved from the 12th to the late 16th century. The initial concentric rectangular ringwork is generally attributed to Walter l'Espec, founder of the nearby Rievaulx Abbey, who held the site from 1120 to 1153. The massive earthern rampart between the deep ditches was probably originally surmounted by a timber stockade. A stone castle was raised by Robert de Roos some time between 1186 and 1227. The curtain wall enclosing the inner bailey featured circular towers protecting 3 of the 4 corners, 2 semi-circular towers flanking the northern gatehouse plus a larger projecting D-shaped tower keep located on the eastern curtain. On the western side the curtain wall is sharply set back roughly half-way along its length and a square tower situated in the angle. A simple gate tower provided access on the southern side. A range of domestic buildings including a great hall were situated on the west side of the inner bailey. The entrances were strengthened in the mid 13th century with the addition of an outer gatehouse in front of the north gate and a large barbican beyond the south gate. During the 14th century the south barbican was strengthened, 2 upper floors were added to the keep and a new hall built in the south west corner. In the 1560s Edward Manners, 3rd Earl of Rutland, built a house in the shell of the west tower which survives largely unaltered. In November 1644 following a 3 month siege the castle surrended to the Parliamentary commander Sir Thomas Fairfax and its subsequent slighting was severe. Most of the curtain wall and towers survive only as footings although the courtyard front of the keep stands almost extant.
More information : (Centred SE 6110 8365). Castle (NR). (Remains of)
(SE 6110 8368). Keep (NR)
(SE 6108 8362). Tower (NR). (1)

Detailed Guidebook. (2)

No change. As described in Department of the Environment Guidebook.

Published survey (1:2500) revised. (3)

I Castle
Under guardianship of Ministry of Works. Keep - curtain wall and tower 12th century with later period alterations and additions. Sixteenth century domestic buildings. Fine example of double moat. (4)

Helmsley castle Helmsley SE 611836. SCHEDULED.(5)

Castle. 12th century to late 16th century. Limestone and sandstone rubble. For description see DoE guide book. Scheduled ancient monument. (6)

The earliest phase of the castle was built circa 1120 as a rectangular ringwork by Walter Espec. It consisted of two massive earthwork banks topped by palisades which enclosed the inner bailey, the northern outer bailey is now under a car park though one bank can still be seen. The castle was rebuilt in stone sometime after 1186, the inner bank was levelled and replaced by a curtain wall with round corner towers. The gates and the walls were strengthened with new towers and the northern outer bailey was replaced by one to the south east. A hall was also built.

The main period of rebuilding was in the 14th century when the castle's defences and accommodation were completely remodelled. The south barbican was rebuilt and a new hall constructed. Various ancillary buildings such as a brewhouse, bakehouse and lodgings for retainers were also built. This was the form of the castle until 1560 when the domestic ranges were replaced by Edward Manners with a mansion house. Scheduled. (7)

Attributed to Robert de Roos, 1190-1227. It was beseiged during the Civil War and after its surrender in 1644, the defences were dismantled. (8-18)

The Helmsley Castle earthworks were mapped from good quality air photographs. They comprise a central mound - SE 6110 8363 (upon which is the stone structure of the castle), approximately 120m by 80m, surrounded by a double ditch and bank. The inner bank is approximately 20m thick and completely surrounds the central mound. The outer bank is of varying thickness, has a north-east entrance (SE6103 8374) and only covers the western and southern sides. At the eastern end is a large mound approximately 95m by 60m (SE 6119 8356). (Morph Nos. HH.31.4.1 - 31.4.5). This description is based on data from the RCHME MORPH2 database. (19)

Additional reference. (21)

Helmsley Castle is a fine example of the change which was taking place in castle-building at the beginning of the 13th century. The large D-shaped tower keep with its externally projecting cylindrical side provided defence against mine and sap through the avoidance of dead angles whilst retaining at least some of the convenience of a square tower. Ultimately, a compromise between defensive strength and domestic convenience at a time when round towers were replacing square ones. (22 & 23)

Excavations carried out 1957, 1985 and 1994. (24-26)

NMR aerial photographs (27)

Conservation Statement. (28)

Guide to the site. (29)

Brief overview of the site for visitors with an illustration. At the time of recording please note that this site charges admission. (30)

A professional article looking at issues around accessibility to monuments, which takes Helmsley Castle as a case study. (31)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6" map, 1958
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Source Number : 2
Source : Helmsley Castle, Yorkshire
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 11
Source : The Victoria history of the county of York, North Riding, volume one
Source details :
Page(s) : 487-91
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 13
Source : Ryedale and North Yorkshire antiquities
Source details :
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 14
Source : The Archaeological Journal
Source details :
Page(s) : 336
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Vol(s) : 24, 1867
Source Number : 15
Source : The Archaeological Journal
Source details :
Page(s) : 28, 338
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Plates :
Vol(s) : 38, 1881
Source Number : 16
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Proceedings of the Archaeological Institute of Yorkshire, 1846, Catalogue of Antiquities, p 44
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Source Number : 17
Source : The Yorkshire archaeological journal
Source details :
Page(s) : 26
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Vol(s) : 13 (1895)
Source Number : 18
Source : The Yorkshire archaeological journal
Source details :
Page(s) : 352-56
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Vol(s) : 22 (1913)
Source Number : 19
Source : RCHME/EH/HE Aerial Photographers comment
Source details : Antonia Kershaw/29-SEP-1993/RCHME: Howardian Hills Project
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Source Number : 20
Source : Register of parks and gardens of special historic interest in England
Source details : North Yorkshire (May 1987)
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Vol(s) : Part 32
Source Number : 21
Source : Castellarium anglicanum : an index and bibliography of the castles in England, Wales and the Islands. Volume II : Norfolk-Yorkshire and the islands
Source details :
Page(s) : 518
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Vol(s) : Feb-83
Source Number : 3
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : Field Investigator, AGM, 28-OCT-1977
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Source Number : 22
Source : Yorkshire's ruined castles : an account of their history, asssociations and architecture with a chapter on the fortified houses of the county
Source details :
Page(s) : 45-51
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Source Number : 23
Source : English castles : a guide by counties
Source details :
Page(s) : 290-291
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 24
Source : Medieval archaeology : journal of the Society for Medieval Archaeology
Source details :
Page(s) : 196
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 2, 1958
Source Number : 25
Source : The Yorkshire archaeological journal
Source details : Full report of the 1985 excavation
Page(s) : 29-33
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Vol(s) : 61
Source Number : 26
Source : West Yorkshire Archaeology Service (Reports)
Source details : 1994, Report No 177 by J Wright
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Source Number : 27
Source : Aerial photograph
Source details : SE 6183/3/35 14-JUL-1976; SE 6183/38 05-SEP-1984
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Source Number : 28
Source : English Heritage Yorkshire Region Conservation Statements
Source details : Helmsley Castle, Oct-2002
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Source Number : 29
Source : Helmsley Castle, North Yorkshire
Source details :
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Source Number : 30
Source : Heritage unlocked: Guide to free sites in Yorkshire and the north east
Source details :
Page(s) : 87
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Source Number : 31
Source : Building conservation journal : the journal of the RICS Building Conservation Group
Source details : Charlton, Neal: 'Accessibility for a monument [Helmley Castle]'
Page(s) : 14-17
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 37, 2004
Source Number : 4
Source : List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
Source details : Helmsley Rural District, DEC-1948 (Provisional List)
Page(s) : 8
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 5
Source : List of ancient monuments in England: Volume 1, Northern England; Volume 2, Southern England; Volume 3, East Anglia and the Midlands
Source details :
Page(s) : 64
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Vol(s) : 1
Source Number : 6
Source : List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
Source details : Ryedale, 18-MAR-1985
Page(s) : 25
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Source Number : 7
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : 11-Mar-92
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Source Number : 8
Source : Howardian Hills Mapping Project : a report for the National Mapping Programme
Source details : 14-OCT-1994/RCHME/NYCC:Howardian Hills Project
Page(s) :
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 9
Source : Yorkshire, the North Riding
Source details :
Page(s) : 188
Figs. :
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 10
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Camden W. 1599. Britannia
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Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Constructed c1120
Monument End Date : 1130
Monument Start Date : 1110
Monument Type : Ringwork
Evidence : Earthwork
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Built between 1187-1227
Monument End Date : 1227
Monument Start Date : 1186
Monument Type : Castle, Great Hall, Gatehouse, Keep, Curtain Wall
Evidence : Ruined Building, Structure
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Added mid C13
Monument End Date : 1266
Monument Start Date : 1233
Monument Type : Barbican, Gatehouse
Evidence : Ruined Building
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : C14 additions/alterations
Monument End Date : 1400
Monument Start Date : 1301
Monument Type : Castle, Great Hall, Barbican, Keep, Brewhouse, Bakehouse
Evidence : Ruined Building, Documentary Evidence
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Constructed 1560s
Monument End Date : 1569
Monument Start Date : 1560
Monument Type : Country House
Evidence : Extant Building
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : 1644 slighted
Monument End Date : 1644
Monument Start Date : 1644
Monument Type : Castle
Evidence : Ruined Building

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (North Yorkshire)
External Cross Reference Number : 525.03004
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : NY 17
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (North Yorkshire)
External Cross Reference Number : 525.03
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (North Yorkshire)
External Cross Reference Number : 525.03001
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (North Yorkshire)
External Cross Reference Number : 525.03002
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (North Yorkshire)
External Cross Reference Number : 525.03003
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : 13278
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : MORPH2
External Cross Reference Number : HH.31.4
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Listed Building List Entry Legacy Uid
External Cross Reference Number : 328274
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : EH Property Number
External Cross Reference Number : 371
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SE 68 SW 24
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 1066283
Relationship type : General association

Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, HELMSLEY CASTLE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1957-01-01
End Date : 1957-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON SE 68 SW 24
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1977-10-28
End Date : 1977-10-28
Associated Activities : Primary, HELMSLEY CASTLE
Activity type : GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1983-01-01
End Date : 1983-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, HELMSLEY CASTLE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1985-01-01
End Date : 1985-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, HELMSLEY CASTLE CAR PARK EXTENSION
Activity type : GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1993-01-01
End Date : 1993-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, HELMSLEY CASTLE CAR PARK EXTENSION
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 1993-01-01
End Date : 1993-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, RCHME/NYCC: HOWARDIAN HILLS PROJECT
Activity type : MEASURED SURVEY
Start Date : 1993-04-01
End Date : 1994-01-01
Associated Activities : Primary, HELMSLEY CASTLE CAR PARK EXTENSION
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1994-01-01
End Date : 1994-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, HELMSLEY CASTLE, OUTER BAILEY
Activity type : GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1995-01-01
End Date : 1995-12-31