South Mimms motte and bailey castle
- 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.
- Hertsmere (District Authority)
- South Mimms
- National Grid Reference:
- TL 23005 02570
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were superseded by other types of castle.
South Mimms Castle has a well-documented history dating back to the 12th century and has associations with royalty. Partial excavation has confirmed the information from the historical sources. Despite limited disturbance by excavation, animal burrowing and cultivation, the motte and bailey and its defences survive in good condition and contain archaeological evidence relating to the various stages of development of the castle. Additionally, environmental evidence will give an indication of the nature of the landscape within which the monument was constructed and the economy of its inhabitants.
South Mimms motte and bailey castle is situated on an east-facing slope
overlooking the Mimmshall Brook, about 1.25km north-west of South Mimms
village. It includes a motte, c.9m in height and 35m in diameter at the base,
in the north-west corner of a kidney-shaped bailey which measures 125m
north-south by 110m east-west and is surrounded by a bank and ditch. The
entrance to the inner bailey was on the south-west side where there is now a
causeway across a ditch and a break in the rampart. There are traces of an
outer bailey to the south.
The castle is thought to have been built by Geoffrey de Mandeville in 1141
with a licence from Matilda and was probably destroyed in 1143.
Excavations carried out by J Kent in 1961-5 revealed that a timbered tower had
been built on the ground with an entrance on the south and that the motte had
then been constructed around the tower with spoil from the defensive ditches.
Pottery from the 13th and 14th centuries was uncovered during the excavation
and suggests that occupation of the site continued after the destruction of
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:
Information from NAR (TL20 SW 1),
Information from SMR,
Warren, B, Notes of South Mimms Castle Report, (1988)
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