Earls Barton motte castle


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1009510

Date first listed: 25-Jan-1927

Date of most recent amendment: 19-Jan-1993


Ordnance survey map of Earls Barton motte castle
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Northamptonshire

District: Wellingborough (District Authority)

Parish: Earls Barton

National Grid Reference: SP 85161 63842


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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.

Earls Barton motte castle lies in an unusual position very close to a church with a rare 10th-century Saxon tower and it is considered that the defensive ditch of the motte is also of Saxon origin. The site survives in good condition and has considerable potential for archaeological evidence from the Saxon to the later medieval period.


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


Earls Barton motte castle lies beside All Saints Church in the centre of the village. The castle motte is an oval, flat-topped mound. It is conical in shape and about 3m high with a basal diameter of between 60m and 65m. The south of the motte lies within the closed churchyard of All Saints Church and the north side of the mound is bounded by a flat-bottomed ditch. The ditch is 3m to 4m deep and up to 10m wide with traces of an outer bank on its north side; the east and west ends of the ditch have been partially infilled. The site stands adjacent to the 10th-century Saxon church tower and it is thought that the ditch provided a defence around a Saxon manor house with the existing earthwork being re-used as the motte. The site is under grass at present and forms part of a recreation ground. All made-up paths are excluded from the scheduling 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: 13660

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Royal Commission on Historical Monuments of England, , Archaeological Site of Northamptonshire, Volume II, (1979), 40-2

End of official listing