Montem Mound: a motte at Salt Hill, Upton-cum Chalvey


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Slough (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SU 96661 80042

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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.

Despite some later modification, the probable motte at Salt Hill retains archaeological potential and survives well as a landscape feature with interesting historical associations with the Eton festival of Montem.


The monument includes the remains of a substantial mound situated alongside Montem Lane, on the edge of a valley terrace overlooking a small stream. Though the original form of the mound is somewhat obscured by later modification, it has the appearance of a small motte, possibly constructed to control a fording point. It is roughly circular in shape with a diameter of 28m and remains up to 6m high around the best preserved north-western half. The south-eastern part of the mound is less well preserved, having the appearance of being unfinished. In this area it rises as a series of three low scarps to a total height of 3.7m. The flat summit of the mound has dimensions of 7m north to south by 4m east to west. The site has historical associations with Eton College as the focus of the Montem celebration, which was observed triennially between the years 1561 and 1846. This ceremony, peculiar to Eton, is reported to date from the foundation of the college. It consisted of a procession of scholars, dressed either in military or fancy costume, to a small mound at Salt Hill, on the south side of the Bath road. Here they extracted money for salt from those present and from passers by. The festival was abolished in 1846 by Dr Hawtrey.

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:
Legacy System:


SU 90 SE 1,


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

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