Motte and bailey castle 50m to the west of St Michael's church.


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.

Shropshire (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SO 44877 99373

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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.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 to the west of Smethcott church survives well and is a good example of its class. Partial excavations on the site have demonstrated the survival in good condition of further evidence relating to the occupation of the site. Environmental evidence relating to the landscape in which the castle was constructed will survive sealed beneath the mound and in the ditch fill. Such motte and bailey castles contribute information concerning the settlement pattern, economy and social structure of the countryside and in this respect the close physical relationship between the castle and the church is also of interest.


The monument includes the earthwork remains of a motte and bailey castle situated on the summit of a ridge lying roughly east to west with gentle slopes to the north and steep slopes to the south. The earthworks include a well defined motte with a base diameter of 40m rising 2.8m to a flat topped summit 16m in diameter. The bailey lies on the south side of the motte and is an oval enclosure with dimensions of 50m north to south by 35m east to west bounded by a well defined scarp slope varying between 1.2m and 1.7m high. There is no visible trace of a ditch surrounding the motte from which the material for its construction would have been quarried though one survives as a buried feature with a width of 3m. Similarly the outer ditch surrounding the bailey is not visible at ground level, though it will survive as a buried feature with a width of 3m. Excavations carried out at the monument in 1956-58 revealed the existence of the motte ditch, a timber structure on the summit of the motte and stone foundations outside of the ditch on the east side. Finds made at that time, including some whole cooking pots, indicated that the site was occupied in the 12th and 13th centuries. Excluded from scheduling is the cattle shelter at the south west corner of the bailey but the ground beneath is included.

MAP EXTRACT 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.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


SMR Record 219,


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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