Aughton Church

all saints church, aughton

Castle Hill

Scheduled Ancient Monument

The surviving earthworks, which comprise a circular motte(mound) standing inside the SE angle of a rectangular bailey(enclosure), is not readily apparent as all is thickly covered by trees and bushes. It stands immediately north of the church, at the western end of the village, and other earthworks seen elsewhere may be associated with the castle or with the later manor-house. The castle site is on private land, but can easily be seen (preferably in winter when the foliage is off the trees etc.) from the path leading to the church.

Adjacent to the SE side of the castle are the earthworks of the later moated manor-house site, now occupied by Aughton Hall.

The motte is now about 5m. high with base and summit diameters of 46m. and 25m. respectively, and was probably formed with the material from the ditch which surrounds the bailey, which is now about 2m. deep and 12m. wide. There are traces of an outer defensive bank to the west which originally may have continued to surrounded the site of the church.

After King William the first (the 'Conqueror'), had completed his devastation of the country between York and the Tees in 1069 (called 'The Harrying of the North'), he parceled out the vacant lands to trusted followers. The lands of Aughton became part of the estates of the Count of Mortain(King William's half-brother), and he in turn granted it (one of ninety-five manors) to one of his followers, Nigel Fossard, who died about 1120 and was reputedly a grasping and unscrupulous man. Nigel's main castles were at Mukjrave and Mountferrant in North Yorkshire, and Doncaster, so the castle of Aughton was probably built to house an under-tenant, and possibly also, in conjunction with another castle on the west bank of the Derwent, to guard a crossing.

The castle is thought to have been abandoned in favour of the adjoining moated site early in the thirteenth century when the lands passed to the de la Haye family. In the fourteenth century the lands passed by marriage to Sir Richard Aske(died after 1365), and here lived Sir Robert Aske who, in 1536, headed the rebellion called 'The Pilgramage of Grace'. The moated manor-house was abandoned by the Aske's around 1645.

A visitor to Aughton in 1754 wrote "On the north side of Aughton Church is a round mount called the Castle Hill surrounded with a deep ditch, and at the east end of it is a large site of the hall, or manor-house, also moated about, but little is to be seen of their former grandeur, the steeple of the church, as I suppose, being built out of their ruins; for it plainly appears to be of a later erection than the body of the church, both by the stone and the style of the work".