A motte and bailey castle at Castle Fields, 285m north-west of Castle Farm
Reasons for Designation
Motte and bailey castles are medieval fortifications introduced into Britain by the Normans. They comprised a large conical mound of earth or rubble, the motte, surmounted by a palisade and a stone or timber tower. In a majority of examples an embanked enclosure containing additional buildings, the bailey, adjoined the motte. Motte castles and motte-and-bailey castles acted as garrison forts during offensive military operations, as strongholds, and, in many cases, as aristocratic residences and as centres of local or royal administration. Built in towns, villages and open countryside, motte and bailey castles generally occupied strategic positions dominating their immediate locality and, as a result, are the most visually impressive monuments of the early post-Conquest period surviving in the modern landscape.
Over 600 motte castles or motte-and-bailey castles are recorded nationally, with examples known from most regions. As one of a restricted range of recognised early post-Conquest monuments, they are particularly important for the study of Norman Britain and the development of the feudal system. Although many were occupied for only a short period of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.
The motte and bailey castle at Castle Fields survives well as a distinctive feature in the landscape. The earthworks of the mound and outer bailey will contain archaeological information and environmental evidence relating to the original construction of the castle as well as evidence of changes in use of the site over time. As a monument accessible to the public it also forms an educational and recreational resource.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 18 June 2014. The record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.
The monument includes a motte and bailey castle surviving as earthworks and below-ground archaeological remains. It is situated on the south-east extremity of a low ridge overlooking the Medway Valley. The motte is approximately 50m in diameter and 2m high and is surrounded by the traces of a silted-up ditch, which is up to 0.5m deep on the west side. The bailey extends along the ridge to the north-west of the motte for a distance of at least 75m and includes a ditch up to 0.7m deep on the north side. The earthworks of a probable second bailey denoted by a ditch are located to the south-east of the motte.
The site was partially excavated in 1912 and 1975, which indicated that the motte consisted of sandstone rubble with a layer of blackened earth and some burnt stones. The finds included a Prehistoric worked flint and some 14th and 17th century pottery. The local name for the area is Castle Fields.