Barrow Hill: a motte castle 250m south of Barrow Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1009452

Date first listed: 07-Sep-1992


Ordnance survey map of Barrow Hill: a motte castle 250m south of Barrow Farm
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The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1009452 .pdf

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This copy shows the entry on 21-Nov-2018 at 10:47:19.


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

County: Hertfordshire

District: East Hertfordshire (District Authority)

Parish: Widford

National Grid Reference: TL 41705 16838


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.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 partial excavation and disturbance caused by animal burrowing, Barrow Hill motte is well preserved and will retain archaeological information showing the construction sequence and other details of the duration of the monument's use. Additionally, environmental evidence will survive relating to the landscape in which the monument was constructed.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes a motte castle situated near the crest of a south-east facing slope overlooking the River Ash. It includes a large conical mound which measures 43m in diameter at the base and c.6.6m in height. The mound has a flat top which measures 14.3m north-south by 5.5m east-west. Also identifiable at ground level is a 3m wide ditch from which material was quarried during the construction of the mound and which formed a deep defensive ditch which may have been waterfilled. This has been infilled over the years but survives to a maximum depth of c.0.3m. The mound was once thought to be a barrow but this is now disputed.

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: 20649

Legacy System: RSM


SMR No 0503, Information from SMR (0503),

End of official listing