Tadcaster Historical Society - Riverside Archaeological Dig


Unfortunately the Exhibition is now over. If it is possible to arrange a new date for the exhibition we will announce it here.

A sketch map of the site

Cottages formerly on the site

A drawing of a Motte and Bailey Castle taken from a web-page created by Woodlands Junior School in Kent. This page provides an illustrated description of these castles.

After 12 months of hard planning, in April 2015 the Historical Society successfully completed an archeaological dig on a site between the Motte and Bailey Castle and the River Wharfe. Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and guided by a small team of archaeologists from West Yorkshire Archaeological Service, a team of enthuisiasts, young and old, carefully dug, recorded, surveyed and photographed many test pits and long trenchs.

In the following months the finds were cleaned, examined and classified, reports have been written and results analysed. Now it is the time to feed back all we have learnt !.

The Background ...

Motte and Bailey castles are medieval fortifications introduced into Britain by the Normans. They comprised a large conical mound of earth or rubble, the motte, surmounted by a palisade and a stone or timber tower. In a majority of examples an embanked enclosure containing additional buildings, the bailey, adjoined the motte. Motte castles and motte-and-bailey castles acted as garrison forts during offensive military operations, as strongholds, and, in many cases, as aristocratic residences and as centres of local or royal administration. Built in towns, villages and open countryside, motte and bailey castles generally occupied strategic positions dominating their immediate locality and, as a result, are the most visually impressive monuments of the early post-Conquest period surviving in the modern landscape.

The motte and bailey castle at Tadcaster survives reasonably well despite building encroachment over part of the bailey and the part infilling of the surrounding moat. Archaeological remains will survive within the infilled moat and across the remainder of the site. These will retain information on the history of the site and the range of buildings and other features originally located within it. The castle is one of the early Norman fortifications in the north of England and incorporated earlier existing defences. The remains at Tadcaster are important for the study of the development of both castles and towns and the effect of Norman control in the early Norman period in North Yorkshire.

English Heritage provide a full description of the castle. The castle's location is shown on this map.