Motte and bailey castle 230m south east of Arrow Mill.
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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle. Despite cultivation the motte and bailey castle 230m south east of Arrow Mill has already produced and will contain further archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction, development, territorial, political, economic and strategic significance, longevity, domestic arrangements and overall landscape context.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 2 June 2015. This 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. As such they do not yet have the full descriptions of their modernised counterparts available. Please contact us if you would like further information.
This monument includes a motte and bailey castle situated on the summit of a knoll on the eastern bank of the River Arrow. The castle survives as a series of slight earthworks and largely buried structures, layers and deposits visible as crop and soil marks on aerial photographs. The natural knoll has been utilised as a motte and additional building platforms and enclosures were added to the north and east forming a series of slight but visible parallel banks and buried ditched features. The natural northern scarp edge was also incorporated into the defences. Partial excavations in 1934 indicated the use of the knoll as a motte and found no stone building foundations thus concluding timber buildings had initially been used. Large quantities of pottery, tiles and slates were retrieved which indicated 12th to 13th century occupation. Further large quantities of similarly dated pottery were made in 1985. A geophysical survey identified a number of internal anomalies and excavations were also carried out to the east in the inner bailey and cess pits and the outer ditch were identified along with further 12th to 13th century finds. The castle is now thought to include three baileys an inner one to the east and two outer baileys to the north. It is known locally as ‘Boteler’s’ or ‘Oversley Castle’. In 1086 Fulk held the manor of Oversley, but it later passed to Ralph de Boteler (the Earl of Mellent) who was an official to the Earl of Leicester. It is believed that Boteler probably built the castle and used it as his principal residence. A stone building is recorded on the site in the 17th century although this is no longer extant.