Motte at Hampstead Norreys, 250m south-west of St Mary's Church
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1007927
Date first listed: 25-Oct-1968
Date of most recent amendment: 03-Feb-1993
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: West Berkshire (Unitary Authority)
Parish: Hampstead Norreys
National Grid Reference: SU 52891 76006
Reasons for Designation
Motte 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-bai1ey 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 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
and motte-and-bailey castles are recorded nationally, with examples known from
most regions. Some 100-150 examples do not have baileys and are classified as
motte castles. 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the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other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 at Hampstead Norreys survives well and can be related to other features which formed part of the medieval landscape, including a manor site and the village with its parish church.
The monument includes the remains of a small motte situated at the northern
end of a low spur above the village of Hampstead Norreys. It stands on the
eastern slope of the spur, below the crest and overlooking the valley of the
River Pang. The motte is some 25m in diameter and stands to a height of 4.2m.
There is a well defined surrounding ditch, 5m wide and up to 1.7m deep, from
which material was quarried during the construction of the mound. The whole
summit is hollowed to a depth of 0.6m, possibly indicating that it may have
been built up around a central wooden tower, no visible trace of which
remains. The siting of the motte appears designed to control a crossing point
and convergence of routeways.
MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System number: 19014
Legacy System: RSM
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. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
End of official listing