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The motte has been badly damaged by landscape gardening, and the bailey has probably been incorporated into the garden and the churchyard. No evidence can be seen today of the ditches and ramparts that would have formed parts of the defences.
The photo above, clearly shows the largest of the two baileys in the foreground.
The motte and bailey castle at Burton In Lonsdale, was built as part of a line of defences along the Lune valley, along with a collection of earthwork castles rivaling those of the Welsh borders, and including Melling, Arkholme, Whittington (to which Castle Hill at Burton in Lonsdale was a subsidiary), Hornby, Halton and Lancaster. There is documentary evidence to suggest that the castle here was built to provide a line of supply on the route north to the recently established Norman castle at Carlisle, but whilst Carlisle undoubtedly saw a large amount of military action, it's unlikely that Burton in Lonsdale, being so far south, saw any 'action' at all. Indeed, records show that the castle was probably only manned in 1130, when the garrison consisted of a single knight, around 10 sergeants, a porter and a night watchman (thanks to North Craven Heritage for this information) This record of the garrison, and the costs incurred, are the earliest mention of a castle in the village.
Like Halton further south, the manor of Burton was originally in the hands of Earl Tostig, until his death at the battle of Stamford Bridge on the 25th of September 1066. The Normans were quick to consolidate their control over these areas after their October invasion, with motte and bailey castles being built all along the line of the River Lune. The powerful de Mowbray family controlled the area immediately surrounding Burton in Lonsdale, but had estates elsewhere too. The castle was most likely where the de Mowbrays administered their estates from, and would have been an imposing focal point for the local communities.
In the latter years of the 1290's, the de Mowbrays had less need for large estates, and sold huge areas to three powerful Yorkshire families: the Crepping, Youckflett and de Rypon families. It is believed that the castle was out of use and probably dismantled with only the earthworks surviving, sometime between 1322 and 1369.
The above photo shows the motte to the right of the church between the road and the building. The ditches providing protection to the site are now thought to lie beneath the roadway.