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the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other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 castle in Keeper's Wood survives well and remains an impressive
monument, despite the hollow excavated into the south west side. The mound
and buried ditch will retain archaeological information concerning the
construction and use of the motte, which is of particular interest in relation
to the 12th century castle at Castle Rising, 800m to the west. Evidence for
earlier land use will also be preserved in soils buried beneath the mound.
The monument, which has been identified as a motte castle, includes a large
earthen mound with a surrounding ditch, situated on the edge of a slope
overlooking Babingley River, 400m to the north. The mound, or motte, stands
to a height of c.3.5m and covers a sub-circular area with a maximum diameter
of c.80m. Its top is a slightly dished platform measuring c.30m across. A
ditch encircling the mound, from which material was quarried for its
construction, has been mostly infilled but remains visible as a shallow,
semicircular hollow c.16m wide to the south west of the mound. It will,
however, survive as a buried feature. A large hollow, measuring c.5m wide and
7m deep at the bottom and c.12m wide at the top, has been excavated into the
south west face of the mound.
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.