Saturday, 20 August 2011

Ancient monument goes to auction

From the Yorkshire Post.

An ancient scheduled monument is going under the hammer in East Yorkshire.

Moot Hill, Driffield, is up for auction on September 7 with a guide price of £25,000 to £30,000 – but is being marketed more for the surrounding land than the remains of the motte and bailey castle it contains.

Archeologists believe the castle, which is now just a large mound, was built in about 1071 – about the same time Skipsea Castle was built for the lords of Holderness.
Excavations by JR Mortimer – the 100th anniversary of whose death is being celebrated in Driffield today – in the 19th century revealed Saxon relics, including fragments of swords, spears and a bronze axe.

Auctioneers Dee, Atkinson and Harrison describe the 2.33 acre site as a “rare opportunity for buyers to purchase a large parcel of amenity land which is suitable for grazing horses, sheep and other livestock”.

Owner James Hood, a retired farmer who bought the land in 1973, disputes archeologists’ theories and claims an excavation in the mid-70s revealed nothing bigger than a cigarette.

He said: “It was supposed to be a burial mound, then they decided it was a motte and bailey castle. You wouldn’t build a castle without foundations whatsoever. In my opinion they just made it up to keep control of it.”

But he says it will make grazing for horses and ponies right in the middle of the town.

The site, close to the Old Highfield Country Club, is, however, protected by an English Heritage listing which states that “this monument is scheduled under the ancient monuments and archaeological areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of National importance.”

On top of the mound or motte there would once have been a timber palisade and a tower. The large embanked enclosure was known as a bailey. Documents from the early 13th century refer to an abandoned bailey at Driffield.

A blue plaque is being officially unveiled at the Masonic Hall on Lockwood Street in Driffield today to commemorate Mortimer and the museum he founded.

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