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All the aerial photographs on this site are copied from Google Earth with permission and not for sale, for personal use only

After the rebellion that followed the death of the Conqueror, in 1088, the lands that had belonged to the Count of Mortain were forfeited. These included 7 curacates in another Leavening. The Count’s land in the area went to Nigel Fossard, who had been a subtenant of the Count. In the late 11th or 12th Centuries, he built a castle at Mount Ferrant on a headland on the escarpment of Birdsall Brow. Theses early castles were built of wood, some later being rebuilt in stone.
There are several legends, but history tells a different story. It was Henry II who ordered the destruction of Mount Ferrant, for William’s support of the rebellion of 1174 and that it was Robert de Stuteville, Sherriff of Yorkshire who carried out those orders and sent the wood to Meaux Abbey.
On his journeys through England and Wales between 1535 and 1543, John Leland, the tudor antiquary noted that:
“Mount Ferraunt castelle stood 2 miles from Malton, in the lordship and paroche of Byredeshaul. It is now clerely defacid, and bussches grow where it stoode”.

From Leavening Through the Ages by Don Howarth


Mount Ferrant
Old OS Map of Site

mt. ferrant location os

Mount Ferrant,
Map Ref: SE 796638, Nr. Malton


Above: taken from the road.
Below: Ariel view showing the round motte earthwork.

mt ferrant

In one account of  the fall of Mount Ferrant, it is said that in around 1169, William Fossard I (the grandson of the castle-builder) died, leaving the heir, William Fossard II in his minority. This meant that he would become a ward of the King. Thus William was put under the care of William le Gros, Count of Aumale. However he repaid this trust by seducing the Count’s sister. When he was discovered, William II fled the country. In his fury, William le Gros ordered Mount Ferrant to be torn down and the wood from the building to be given to the monks of Meaux Abbey, for building material.

John Leland the Tudor Librarian to Henry VIII who visited the site of castle between 1535 and 1543, relates another version of the legend. As he heard it, this version involved a Bigod of Settrington:
“who did secretely woe and wan the wylle of one of the Albemarles daughters of the Earl of Holderness”.

Roger Dodsworth the Yorkshire antiquary made an exploration of the county in the years from 1619 to 1631 mentions in his Church notes:

...A beck having its head atte Birdsale, where was
Montferrand Castle in...
The fairest lady in all this land,
Was drown’d on the topp of Mount Ferrand.

In Robert Addison’s History he writes “... Tradition says there is a deep well into which a large iron chest filled with gold and precious things was thrown by the occupier of the castle in a time of great danger which was so common in those days but in after ages an attempt to recover was made by persons descended to the bottom and succeeded in putting a strong iron chain around it an to the chain was affixed twenty to thirty strong men, when these put forth their strength they succeeded in raising the chest half way when lamentable to relate the chain broke and down it fell into the well where it remains to this very day”.

From Leavening Through the Ages by Don Howarth

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