2. Today the River Lune flows much closer to Arkholme than Melling. When constructed in the late eleventh century, the path of the river originally ran further to the south (closer to Melling).
Postcode: LA6 2RD
Lat/Long: 54.134796N 2.615636W
Notes: The motte is located in the grounds of the Vicarage associated and adjacent to St Wilfrid’s Church. This is located on the A683 that runs through the village. On-road parking is achievable with care.
WHAT IS THERE TO SEE?
The remains of a motte within a (private) garden of a Vicarage but visible from the adjacent church grounds. The motte has been partially landscaped and has a number of trees growing on it but the substantive shape is still visible. The bailey is buried under the church.
Melling Castle was an earth and timber motte-and-bailey fortification which formed part of a chain of military outposts controlling the fertile agricultural land of the Lune Valley. Built in the immediate wake of the Norman Conquest it was occupied for less than two hundred years although the associated settlement has remained to this day.
HISTORY OF MELLING CASTLE
Melling Castle was one of a number of fortifications erected shortly after the Norman Conquest in order to control trade and movement along the River Lune. Configured from the start as a motte-and-bailey structure, it was situated on a raised knoll towering over the river valley. The defences on top of the motte and those surrounding the bailey (which enclosed the land currently occupied by St Wilfrid's church) were timber.
Prior to the Norman Conquest Melling was a distinct Lordship in its own right and, along with much of the Lune Valley, was fertile agricultural land. Nevertheless, as the Normans consolidated their rule, the Lordship was incorporated into the adjacent barony of Hornby rendering Melling Castle itself militarily redundant. Accordingly it was abandoned around the late twelfth or early thirteenth centuries but the associated settlement continued in use. St Wilfred's church was built during the twelfth century within the parameter of the former castle's bailey but this may well have replaced an even earlier (perhaps even pre-Norman) structure. The building was extensively re-modelled in the fifteenth century and again in the 1850s.
Melling, like much of northern England, suffered during the early fourteenth century as the fortunes of the first War of Scottish Independence turned against the English. Forces representing Robert I (the Bruce) ravished Lancashire hoping to force King Edward II into accepting peace. The settlement at Melling was attacked on several occasions but the castle, the timber defences of which had long since been left to rot, offered no protection to the populace. Thereafter the village makes periodic appearances in national events - its residents participated in the Pilgrimage of Grace (1536-7) against Henry VIII's reforms to the English church, supported Charles I in the English Civil War and saw Jacobite forces pass nearby during the 1745 uprising.