Bury Mount motte castle


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


Ordnance survey map of Bury Mount motte castle
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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This copy shows the entry on 16-Jun-2019 at 03:58:19.


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

South Northamptonshire (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SP 69342 48818

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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.

Bury Mount at Towcester is a well preserved example of a small round motte castle situated within an urban location to maintain control over local communications. The castle had important royal connections in the early medieval period and also preserves earthwork fortifications known from documentary evidence to have originated in the Civil War. The motte stands within the area of the Roman town of Lactodorum and therefore is very likely to preserve archaeological evidence of occupation on this site from the Roman to post medieval periods.


This monument consists of the motte mound known as Bury Mount and the earthwork banks and ditches which lie around it. The motte lies on the north- east side of the town and is located in what was a corner of the Roman town. The mound of the castle motte is approximately 4m high and 70m in diameter. It is steep sided and bounded by the River Tove on its north-eastern side. Remains of a substantial ditch 3m deep and 8m wide are visible on the west side of the motte and indicate that originally the mound may have been surrounded by a continuous ditch with access being gained by a bridge. On the south side of the motte are the remains of an earthwork bank. At present the site is covered with trees and dense undergrowth. Records show that this area was the centre of extensive royal estate, and it is considered that the castle was constructed by the Crown in the late 11th century. The motte is known to have been altered during the Civil War by Prince Rupert, and this could be the origin of the earthwork banks which lie at the southern end of the mound. All above ground buildings, that is the ruined brick cottage on the motte and the outbuildings of the houses on Moat Lane and the store of the agricultural engineering premises, and the made-up roadways are excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath these features is included.

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.

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Books and journals
Royal Commission on Historical Monuments of England, , RCHM on Northants


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