Kinaird Castle, which is also known as Owston Ferry Castle, was an earth and timber motte-and-bailey fortification built in the late eleventh century to serve as a caput for an unusually compact Lordship. It was rebuilt by Roger de Mowbray, Lord of Montbray in 1173 in defiance of Henry II but was captured by Royal forces, destroyed and never rebuilt.
Kinaird Castle is found on the outskirts of the former Saxon settlement at Owston Ferry, a village located on the Isle of Axholme. Although this was never actually an island, prior to modern drainage the area was surrounded by largely inaccessible marshland. Furthermore the River Trent borders the site to the east and the (now diverted) River Don used to run to the north and west. As the name implies, Owston Ferry became the site of a ferry service that crossed the River Trent and this evolved into a key artery of movement to and from the Isle of Axholme. At the time of the Domesday survey of 1086 the site, along with the rest of the Isle of Axholme, was under the ownership of Geoffrey de la Guerche. He probably raised the first castle at Owston to serve as the caput of this Lordship.
The castle took the form of an earth and timber motte-and-bailey fortification. The motte, which was probably topped with a timber palisade and tower and was surrounded by its own ditch, was located to the west of the exiting settlement overlooking the road that led down towards the river and the ferry. Directly to the north of the motte was a large bailey which was protected by a substantial rampart and external ditch. The bailey was internally divided into east and west wards presumably to separate the Great Hall and its ancillary buildings from stabling and agricultural functions.
The Isle of Axholme was unusual in Norman owned England for being a compact Lordship. Normally the estates of magnates were spread across a wide area to prevent one individual becoming too powerful in any particular area and thus challenging Royal power. By 1086 though, the Isle of Axholme was owned exclusively by Geoffrey de La Guerche offering him considerable regional power. When Geoffrey died in 1094 his estates escheated to William II who granted them to Robert de Stuteville. However, he had interests in Normandy and started to align his support behind Robert, Duke of Normandy who was William II's elder brother and rival for the English throne. This led to Robert de Stuteville supporting a rebellion against the King in 1095. Royal forces, fully aware of the threat posed by the compact Lordship of the Isle of Axholme, seized and partially demolished Kinaird Castle.
The extent of the demolition is uncertain but in 1173 the site was refortified by the then owner - Roger de Mowbray, Lord of Montbray - who had joined the rebellion of Henry the Young King against Henry II. However, the following year the castle was besieged by Royal forces under the King's illegitimate son, Geoffrey (later Archbishop of York). Thereafter the castle was slighted to prevent further military use although the work clearly wasn’t carried out to a sufficient standard for in 1180 Adam Painel was fined for not completing the task. The demolition was eventually carried out and the castle was never rebuilt. St Martin's Church was established in the bailey during the thirteenth century.
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Kinaird Castle consists of the earthwork remains of an eleventh century fortification that was rebuilt in 1173. Only the motte survives but it is accessible and offers a good view of the surrounding area. Thirteenth century St Martin’s Church, which has been extensively rebuilt, is located within the former north-western bailey.
Kinaird Castle. The castle's motte survives although the surrounding ditches have been partially in-filled and the mound itself has clearly subsided over the years. The bailey, which was split into east and western wards, has gone. St Martin's Church, started in the thirteenth century and heavily modified thereafter, was built within the bailey perhaps replacing an earlier chapel associated with the castle.
The view from the castle's motte.
Kinaird Castle is located to the west of the village of Owston Ferry adjacent to St Martin's Church. The site is not sign-posted but easily found. There is a lay-by adjacent to the church and the footpath to the castle is sign-posted.
Car Parking Option
East Lound Road, DN9 1RG
The footpath to the castle is found next to the rear entrance to the St Martin's church. Strong footwear is recommended!