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BARWICK IN ELMET HILLFORT AND MOTTE AND BAILEY CASTLE

ALTERNATIVE NAME:  Hall Tower Hill and Wendel Hill
DESCRIPTION + /

Barwick in Elmet comprises the earthwork and buried remains of a large Iron Age univallate hillfort and a twelfth century motte and bailey castle. After the Roman period it may have been the chief stronghold of the Kingdom of Elmet.

The Iron Age hillfort encloses the summits of two adjacent hills;Wendel Hill and Hall Tower Hill. Substantial remains of the hillfort's enclosing bank and ditch have survived on Wendel Hill (up to 4.5m high from base to summit) and on the south-west part of Hall Tower Hill; though these were modified in the 12th century. The south circuit of the bank and ditch, on the south side of Hall Tower Hill, was also identified during construction work in the 1960s. The remains of a massive inturned entrance are visible on the north-west side of Wendel Hill, and much of the interior of the hillfort has survived. Various finds have been uncovered including coins dating to the second century BC and first century AD.

The motte and bailey castle lies within the hillfort on Hall Tower Hill. It was built at the southern end of the hillfort and comprised the motte (c.15m high), surrounded by a deep ditch (c.15m wide) and the bailey, which extended to the north and east. The motte is roughly circular and measures approximately 55m in diameter. There is a 13m platform on the top and the motte is surrounded by a 6m wide ditch which rises onto the bailey. There is an 11m wide rampart on the north-west, west, and south-west sides of the motte. To the north-east and east there is a further section of the outer ditch, which in places measures 11m wide.

The Iron Age hillfort has been identified by some researchers as the capital of Cartimandua. It has also been interpreted as the capital or chief stronghold of the Kingdom of Elmet and was later owned by Edwin Earl of Mercia. The motte and bailey castle was built by the de Lacy family and it was the administrative centre of the northern part of the Honour.

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