Prior to the Norman Conquest the manor of Whittington was held by Earl Tostig, brother to King Harold II. After his death at Battle of Stamford Bridge (1066) and the subsequent Norman invasion, William I granted his lands to Ivo de Taillbois, Baron of Kendal. He raised Whittington Castle as one of a number of fortifications intended to control trade and access along the Lune valley. The structure was a standard earth and timber motte-and-bailey. The mound itself was oval shaped and probably topped with a timber tower and palisade. The bailey was crescent shaped and wrapped around the east side of the motte.
Throughout the castle's history its buildings remained of timber construction and by the late twelfth century it had become militarily redundant. The castle was abandoned around this time although the settlement, with its fertile agricultural land, remained occupied. To serve the spiritual needs of this community the church of St Michael the Archangel was constructed in the thirteenth century within the area originally enclosed by the castle's bailey. Perhaps built over an earlier structure, the church itself was extensively re-modelled in the fifteenth century. Over the time the church re-used the former castle’s grounds, including the motte, as a graveyard. Almost all traces of the bailey have now been eliminated and the motte itself has been extensively deformed.
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The remains of a motte within the grounds of a church. The motte has been deformed as a number of graves were buried within it. Few traces of the crescent shaped bailey can be seen at the site although the church is within its original enclosure.
Motte. Whittington Castle was one of a number of key fortifications along the Lune Valley. Only the motte survives.
Motte. The motte forms part of the graveyard around the church.
Norman Castles of the Lune Valley. A number of motte-and-bailey castles were constructed along the Lune valley in the decades that followed the Norman Conquest. Arkholme Castle, Castle Stede, Halton Castle, Kirby Lonsdale Castle, Lancaster Castle, Melling Castle and Whittington Castle were built overlooking the River Lune. Burton-in-Lonsdale Castle was built on its tributary, the River Greta.
Looking for a different Whittington Castle? Try Whittington Castle (Shropshire)
One of a number of motte-and-bailey fortifications constructed along the Lune valley, Whittington Castle was intended to be a visible symbol of Norman dominance over the region. Its military life was relatively short and the wooden defences were never rebuilt in stone. Today only the motte remains and that has been deformed by its use as a graveyard.
Whittington motte is located within the grounds of St Michael’s church which is found on Church Street. On-road parking is possible in the immediate vicinity.
Whittington Castle (Motte)